“I’m really, really happy that we won gold and qualified for Sochi, but we’ve also shown what are weaknesses are on the ice, so we’re going to be building off this win and working hard the next several months until Sochi.”
The best game was definitely saved for last at the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Qualification Tournament, as South Korea recorded a thrilling 3-2 shoot-out victory over Italy in Torino, Italy, on Saturday (26 October).
With both two teams having already qualified for Sochi 2014 a day prior, the final day determined which team won gold and would take the No. 6 seed at next year’s Paralympics.
In the final game of the tournament, Seung-Hwan Jung opened up the scoring, netting a goal unassisted at the 2:58 mark in the first period to give South Korea the lead until Italy’s Gianluigi Rosa scored at the 11:24 mark to even it up.
Florian Planker pushed Italy ahead just 41 seconds into the second period with a score, which was countered 10 minutes later by South Korea’s Sang-Hyeong Park on a power play.
Both teams’ defenses stepped up in the final period, with only Planker scoring to push for an overtime period. After a scoreless extra five minutes, a shoot-out would decide the winner.
Jong-Kyung Lee, Young-Jae Cho and Min-Su Han all scored for South Korea in the shoot-out, as Italy came up short with goals from only Greg Leperdi and Giuseppe Condello.
Man-Gyun Yu recorded 12 saves between the posts for South Korea in the game, while Italy’s Santino Stillitano saved the puck 14 times.
South Korea’s Jung, easily the most agile and speedy player on the ice this week, was named the tournament’s Best Forward after leading all players with eight goals, in addition to racking up four assists.
“I’m really, really happy that we won gold and qualified for Sochi, but we’ve also shown what our weaknesses are on the ice, so we’re going to be building off this win and working hard the next several months until Sochi,” Jung said.
Rosa earned the honours of Best Defenceman for anchoring Italy and also recording two scores and four assists, while Sweden’s Ulf Nilsson was named Best Goaltender after recording 61 saves and a save percentage of 0.847 in five games.
Nilsson’s team picked up their third win of the tournament with a 4-3 victory over Japan, as forward Per Kasperi and defenceman Niklas Ingvarsson each scored twice.
Kasperi slapped the puck into the net just 4:25 into the game, but Japan’s Daisuke Uehara quickly responded with a power-play goal three minutes later. Kasperi passed the puck to Ingvarsson at the 9:09 mark in the first period to put Sweden ahead once again, this time 2-1.
In the second period, Japan’s Satoru Sudo was able to even the score at 2-2, but then Kasperi and Ingvarsson both scored again to put Sweden ahead for good, despite an unassisted Japanese goal from Mamoru Yoshikawa in the third period.
Sweden outshot Japan 24-8 in the game, with Kasperi and Ingvarsson combining for 15 shots on goal and Nilsson starring in goal for the winning team.
“I think we played very good defense to help our keep the puck out of our goal, and we received good play from our forwards as well this week,” Ingvarsson said.
“It was really our good team spirit here that made us do well together in the tournament.”
By finishing in the top three with South Korea, and Italy, Sweden also qualified for Sochi 2014, where they will join teams from Canada, USA, Russia, Czech Republic and Norway.
Earlier in the day, meanwhile, Germany picked up their second win of the tournament, defeating Great Britain 8-3 to finish the week with six points.
Karl Nicholson struck first for the British team just 25 seconds into the game off a pass from Matthew Clarkson. But then in the next eight minutes, Germany received goals from Christian Pilz, Felix Schrader and Udo Segreff to give themselves a 3-1 lead.
London 2012 Paralympian Nathan Stephens of Great Britain scored his first goal of the tournament on a power play to close out the first period and cut Germany’s lead to 3-2.
But then Germany caught a wave of momentum to score five goals in the second period, as Segreff netted two of those to round out his hat trick. The other three scores came from Jorg Wedde, Bernhard, Hering and Bas Disveld.
Great Britain’s Gary Farmer was the lone player to score in the final period, netting the puck with just 28 seconds to go in the game.
For more information on the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Qualification Tournament, please visit the event website.