The 2021 edition of the IIHF World Championship kicked off today in Riga, Latvia with a slate of four games.
Russia edged the Czech Republic 4-3, Germany blew out Italy 9-4 and Latvia upset Canada 2-0 in the other three games. Since Kevin Bahl is not playing for Canada due to an injury, the only game of interest to us as Devils fans was Slovakia’s 5-2 win over Belarus.
Forward Yegor Sharangovich suited up for Belarus while Marian Studenic was in the lineup for the Slovaks.
Sharangovich ended up with a goal for one point (the Belarusian captain had one other goal called back for goalie interference), four shots on goal in 23:01 of total ice time. Studenic finished with an assist and two shots on goal in 17:12 of time on ice.
Slovakia got on the board 3:53 in when Kristian Pospisil scored from Simon Nemec.
At 8:39 into the game, Belarus’ Mikhail Stefanovich received a double minor for high sticking and Slovakia capitalized.
Peter Cehlarik scored at 9:17 from Martin Gernat and Studenic to make it 2-0. With about 30 seconds still to go on the second half of the double minor, Pospisil nabbed his second from Mislav Rosandic and Michal Kristof. It was now 3-0 Slovakia.
After the second power play goal, Belarus goalie Konstantin Shostak was out in favor of Danny Taylor.
Penalty trouble continued for Belarus when Nikita Komarov received a five-minute interference penalty plus a game misconduct. He was gone for the game as frustrations began to mount for the Belarusians.
After a scoreless, penalty-filled second period, we were on to the third. Marek Hrivik got the Slovakians up by four 5:05 into the third.
Stefanovich got the Belarusians on the board at the 13:25 mark of the third on the power play. Sergei Kostitsyn had the lone assist on the goal. It was now 4-1 Slovakia.
Sharangovich continued to find the back of the net (why should international hockey be any different?) at the 14:22 mark when he scored unassisted. Belarus pulled Taylor and the Slovaks had a penalty shot against them when Marek Daloga threw his stick at the puck.
Sharangovich did not score on the penalty shot in the third (and flipped off the Slovak bench following his miss). Later in the period, Cehlarik scored his second of the game into an empty net. Mario Grman had the assist. That came with 45 seconds left to go in the game and iced it at 5-2.
That actually puts Slovakia in first place in Group A with a plus-three goal differential. Keeping in mind that Sweden, Switzerland, Denmark and Great Britain have yet to play.
Tomorrow’s games involving Devils include Finland facing the United States and Switzerland versus the Czech Republic.