Slovakia and Germany will play for a ticket to Beijing on Wednesday (1 December) in the closing game of the Berlin 2021 Qualification Tournament.
Both teams triumphed on Tuesday beating Norway and Sweden, respectively and now are tied with 9 points in the standings. Italy also moved closer to Paralympic Winter Games qualification after a victory over Japan at the P09 Eissporthalle in the German capital.
Italy 6, Japan 1
Gianluigi Rosa took 38 seconds to put the Italians in the lead but Japan reacted with a Nao Kodama goal on the power play. Bruno Balosseti scored the first of his two goals to put the Europeans back in front again in a 2-1 victory in the first period.
From then on, it was a complete Italian domination with Christoph Depaoli scoring twice, one of them assisted by Nils Larch who also netted one goal in the 6-1 routing.
Kazuya Mochizuki recorded 12 saves for the Japanese that are yet to win a game in Berlin.
“As a defenseman I have to say that the defense was key to our result, but the whole team play really well,” Balosseti said. “This was a very important result because we want to qualify for the Paralympic Games as we have done since Torino 2006.”
Slovakia 4, Norway 2
Slovakia took advantage of power play goals to keep alive the dream of going to the Winter Games for the first time with a 4-2 triumph over Norway that ended any chance of qualification for the Scandinavians.
After a goalless first period, Miroslav Stasak put the Slovakian ahead in the second period before final 15 minutes plenty of power-play goals. First Audun Bakke equalised for Norway, then Martin Joppa scored 2-1 for Slovakia both on power play. A minute later Joppa assisted David Korman for 3-1 in the exact second the power play ended.
Knut Andre Nordstoga scored the second for the Nordic side with an extra attacker but Joppa added an empty-net goal to seal Slovakia’s win.
“It was a very tough game, it was important to score two [power play] goals and basically the game was in our hands,” defenseman Peter Kascak said.
On the final challenge against the host nation on Wednesday:
“We need to be concentrated from the beginning. All games start in 0-0 so we need to play our game until the end.”
Norway’s Johan Groenlie had 12 saves on the day, while Slovakia’s Eduard Lepacek had 9.
Germany 4, Sweden 1
The hosts had an early scare in Berlin when Rasmus Lundgren put Sweden ahead but Joerg Wedde brought Germany back in the game just 2:09 later into the first period.
Ingo Kuhli-Lauenstein assisted Felix Schrader twice and Frank Rennhack once in Germany’s third consecutive victory in the Beijing 2022 Qualification Tournament.
Ulf Nilsson recorded 25 saves for Sweden between the pipes, and Simon Kunst had 5 saves for the Germans.
“Sweden played a very good defense in the first 15 minutes, but we did our job, sticking to our plan, keeping it simple and in the end, we won,” Lucas Sklorz said. “Now we have to do as our coach says, we put the win in our pockets and we concentrate for the next game.”
The last day of the Berlin 2021 Qualification Tournament takes place on Wednesday with Norway vs. Italy, Sweden vs. Japan and Slovakia vs. Germany.
The top two teams qualify for the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics. All games are being streamed live on WorldParaIceHockey.org.