Slovakia Defeats Belarus, Advances to Olympics

The Slovaks will come out of Group D to compete in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games after a 2-1 victory over Belarus today in Bratislava.

Slovakia needed just one point to get to Beijing while the Belarusians needed a win in regulation to advance.

Belarus got into some penalty trouble early, setting the tone for the game. Just 1:50 into the contest, Vladislav Kolyachonok was called for hooking, putting the Slovaks on the power play early.

Then, at the 4:05 mark of the first period, Sergei Sapego was called for boarding and received a game misconduct to go along with it, meaning he was lost for the game for Belarus.

Slovakia took advantage on the power play from the boarding call, being served by Alexei Protas. Peter Cehlarik scored from Marek Hrivik to make it 1-0 Slovakia.

From there, a penalty-filled last of the first gave way to the second frame.

And the Belarusians tied it just 1:07 into the new period. Yegor Sharangovich scored unassisted to tie things up at one.

And then it was back to the penalties, as Belarus’ Geoff Platt took a tripping call at 1:20 and Belarus’ Nikita Komarov took a cross-checking minor at 2:04. Then it was the Slovaks’ turn as Tomas Jurco took a cross-checking call on the same paly as Komarov’s cross-check, Christian Jaros was called for a trip at 3:15 and Marko Dano was called for slashing at 11:22. Belarus player Andrei Stas finished off the flurry of penalties at 12:03 when he was called for slashing.

The third period was a lot less hectic but did see Slovakia break the 1-1 tie.

Marian Studenic was called for a trip 2:42 into the new period, but the Slovaks killed that off.

The game winner came off of an unusual, but logical strategy. Belarus pulled goaltender Danny Taylor with 3:20 to go in regulation. At first, this seems weird to do in a 1-1 game, but once you understand that Belarus needed to win in regulation, it made sense. They needed to get the extra attacker on to win the game before time ran out and we headed to overtime or a shootout, a win in either would do Belarus no good.

But with that cage empty, Slovakia had their chance. Libor Hudacek potted one into the empty net to give Slovakia the 2-1 lead. Peter Ceresnak had the lone assist on the goal.

Belarus would continue to keep pulling Taylor as tien ran down, but to no avail. When Stas took a charging penalty with less than a minute to go, that was fatal.

Slovakia won the game and will advance to the Olympics.

Taylor faced a total of 28 shots and was equal to 27 of them, the second goal going into the empty net and not being charged to him. For Slovakia, Branislav Konrad saw 11 shots and got ten of them.

As for Devils in the game, Jaros had the two penalty minutes from the minoir and two total shots on goal. Marian Studenic had two shots on net. For Belarus, Sharangoich had the goal for a point off of two shots on goal.

So that does it on the tournament, Slovakia finishes in first with two wins, six points and a plus-five goal differential. Belarus finishes in second with one win, good for three points, and a plus-two goal differential. Austria, by virtue of a 4-1 victory over Poland, finishes third with one win, three points and a minus-one goal differential. Poland comes in last with one win, three points and a minus-six goal differential.

Olympic Qualifier Features Two Devils

I did not realize that the Group D Men’s Olympic Qualifiers had gotten underway already, but there are two Devils participating: Christian Jaros and Marian Studenic of Slovakia and Yegor Sharangovich, who is captaining Belarus.

Now, I do not believe that the NHL has made a formal announcement about it’s players participating in the 2022 Beijing games. I do not want to mention details and get them wrong, since I cannot find the source I read it from. When I have more information and can verify sources, I will certainly write up a post on it.

Belarus kicked off the tournament against Poland yesterday and was upset, 1-0. The lone goal came when Filip Komorski scored with about five minutes to go in regulation.

Goaltender Danny Taylor faced just 19 shots for Belarus while Poland’s John Murray turned aside all 46 shots he faced.

Sharangovich had nine shots on goal and two minutes in penalties (a tripping minor taken with a little less than four minutes to go in the second period).

Belarus would go on to face Austria today and win, 5-2. In today’s game, it seemed to be a repeat of yesterday when Austria’s Raphael Herburger scored 8:35 into the game on the power play. Before the end of the first period, Austria would double their lead when Brian Lebler scored with less than two minutes to go (18:40). That goal came just as the Austrians were back to even strength after killing a penalty.

In the second period, just 39 seconds in, Bernhard Starkbaum took a tripping call, putting Belarus on the power play. They converted just four seconds in when Andrei Stas scored from Nick Bailen. That made it 2-1 Austria.

Sharangovich would tie things at 5:55 when he scored from Stas and Nikita Komarov to tie the game at two.

He would strike again at 12:45, this time scoring from Alexei Protas and Komarov at even strength to give Belarus their first lead of the tournament at 3-2. And the Belarusians would not look back.

Shane Prince made it 4-2 when he scored from Artyom Demkov at 16:51. Belarus would get another from Geoff Platt with 22 seconds to go in the second when he scored from Prince and Francis Pare. That made it 5-2, our final.

Sharangovich would end the game with two goals for two points off of two shots. Goaltender David Kickert made 23 saves on 28 shots faced for Austria. For Belarus, Taylor made 16 saves off of 18 shots.

And now on to Slovakia, the hosts of the tournament, as it takes place in Bratislava at eth Ondrej Nepela Arena.

The Slovaks played yesterday against the Austrians winning 2-1.

Libor Hudacek kicked off the scoring, making it 1-0 just 1:46 into the game. He scored from Peter Ceresnak to make it 1-0 Slovakia.

Just after killing a hooking penalty against Hudacek, Slovakia made it 2-0 at 8:28 of the second. Martin Gernat scored from Studenic, who had his first point of the tournament. He would finish with that assist and a shot on goal.

Austria would get one back when Lebler scored at 12:45 of the third to make it 2-1. But, even after pulling goalie Kickert, the Belarusians held on to win the game by that very score.

Kickert stopped 30 of the 32 shots he saw while Slovakia’s Branislav Konrad was equal to 20 of the 21 shots fired at him.

Jaros registered a shot on goal on the night.

Slovakia played again today against Poland, winning 5-1.

The Slovaks took the early lead when Adam Ruzicka scored 8:06 into the game from Ceresnak and Gernat.

They doubled their lead 4:38 into the second when Hudacek scored from Ceresnak and Gernat. Less than two minutes later, at 6:11, Milos Roman scored to make it 3-0, off assists from Juraj Slafkovsky and Simon Nemec.

The Poles got on the board on the power play at 10:17 of the third. Slovakia’s Kristian Pospisil took a charging call at 8:20. With three seconds to go on the power play, at 10:17, Krystian Dziubinski made it 3-1 off assists from Alan Lyszczarczyk and Aron Chmielewski.

The Slovaks would get that back when Peter Cehlarik scored at 12:39 of the second period. He had helpers from Hudacek and Tomas Jurco to make it 4-1.

Slovakia rounded out the scoring when Ruzicka scored at 8:02 of the third period from Pospisil and Robert Lantosi.

Poland would end the game on the penalty kill while Dziubinski was in the box serving an interference penalty.

Slovakian goalie Konrad made 16 saves on just 17 shots against while Polish goalie Murray was very busy, stopping 43 of 48 shots against.

Jaros registered four shots on goal while Studenic was a plus-1.

Tomorrow, Poland will face Austria while, of interest to us, Slovakia takes on Belarus.

Currently, Slovakia stands in first place in the tournament with two wins and six points. Poland is in second with a win and three points while Belarus is tied with them, also with a win and three points. Austria is in last place with no wins or points in the round-robin tournament.