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Team Canada 26 Man Shortlist Announced
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2017 Team Canada Tryout Dates / Locations Announced...

Canada wins a thriller - moves on to Semis vs USA

PARDUBICE – Canada moves on to the semi-finals after surviving a tight battle with the Czech Republic, winning 6-5 in the shootout. Team Sweden’s offence is firing on all cylinders as it moves on to the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship semi-final round with a 12-1 blowout of Slovakia. Top-ranked Team USA, the 2013 defending champions, also advanced with a 4-1 defeat of Germany. In Division I, Latvia got its first ever IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship victory, defeating Austria 4-3 in a shootout.

Here are the semi-final matchups:

Top Division:
15:00 - Finland vs. Sweden
17:00 - USA vs. Canada

Division I:
18:00 - Croatia vs. Australia
20:00 - Slovenia vs. Latvia

Czech Republic – Canada 5-6 SO (1-0, 2-1, 0-1, 2-3, 0-0, 0-1) Postgame

In what was the wildest game so far of the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship, the quarter-final matchup between Canada and the Czech Republic ended on the stick of captain Chris Terry, who scored the game-winning shootout goal to send the Canadians back to the semi-final round and complete a dramatic third period comeback.

“Ecstatic,” said goaltender Brent Leggat. “Going in and facing a tough Czech team inside a really loud arena and coming out with a win, I couldn’t be happier.”

Down 3-2 in the final period, 2013 bronze medallists Canada were staring at an early exit from the playoff round and a trip to the placement game.
Things look more grim when Patrik Sebek scored to make it 4-2 for the Czechs, faking a slapshot to make the Canadian defender go down to block, skating around him and beating Leggat between the legs for the two-goal lead.

But the insurance goal evaporated seconds later as Team Canada captain Chris Terry got ahold of a rebound in front of the Czech net to cut the lead back down to one.

Then with just over six and a half minutes to go Canadian Brendan Baumgartner came into the Czech zone and dropped a pass back to linemate Dave Hammond open in the slot for the tying score.

That goal put all the momentum to the Canadian side, and seconds later off a rush Thomas Woods scored to give his team its first lead of the game.

Finding themselves down 5-4, the Czechs went on the power play with 4:30 remaining, and Patrik Sebek converted his second goal of the game, firing a shot from the point that was deflected in front of the net.

Neither team was able to score again in regulation or overtime, so it came down to a battle of the goalies to decide which team would advance to the semi-final round.

First up was Leggat facing Sebek, who feinted and then fired a shot glove side into the back of the net.

Woods then replied for Canada beating Salficky with a backhand deke. Leggat returned the favour on the next attempt by the Czechs, stopping Simo with a pad save. Then Chris Terry converted to put all the pressure on Czech top scorer Martin Vozdecky, who could not beat the glove of Leggat, giving Canada the shootout victory.  

“Looking at the talented players on the Czech roster, we knew who was going to be shooting,” said Canada head coach Jason Stephens. “Fortunately Leggat played great and Chris and Woodsy were able to get pucks in for us.”

“We wanted to win the game in overtime and not have to take it to the shootout, unfortunately the Canadians were the luckier team today,” said goaltender Dusan Salficky.

The Czechs scored the game’s first goal at 11:45 into the first period when Vladimir Kames made a great play coming in from the left side, avoiding the diving pokecheck by Leggat and slotting it home to the delight of the home crowd.

Canada equalized during a power play in the second period. After a scoring chance from Terry, Salficky was unable to corral a loose puck in front of the net and Kyle Sheen pushed it in to tie the game.

The Czechs jumped back ahead thanks to a wristshot from Michal Simo coming into the high slot area and firing the puck straight into the top right corner with less than three minutes left in the second frame.

Then the Czechs added another a minute later, thanks to a great passing sequence between NHLer Ales Hemsky and linemates Ludek Broz and Petr Senkerik, ending with Hemsky passing back to an oncoming Senkerik in the slot area for the score.

Controversy erupted at the start of the third period, when an apparent fourth goal by the Czechs’ Michal Simo was disallowed. The referee initially ruled a goal but then determined that the puck hit the crossbar and deflected out without crossing the goal line. However upon reviewing the play after the game, the IIHF stated that a goal should have been called.

Canada caught another break when Sebek went to the box for interference. On the power play Terry got his second goal of the game, off a wristshot near the point beating Salficky high glove side.

With the win Canada faces North American rivals USA. The last time the two teams played against each other was in the 2013 World Championship preliminary round, a 5-3 win for the Americans.

Sweden – Slovakia 12-1 (5-0, 2-1, 2-0, 3-0)  Postgame

Marcus Nilsson scored five goals in the game, bringing his 2014 Inline total to seven, as Sweden rolled over Slovakia 12-1. 

"I'm very satisfied with how we played today," said head coach Bjorn Ostlund. "We started well with five goals in the first period, Slovakia is not a bad team so I was suprised by how successful we were today."

Sweden went up by two goals in the first two minutes of the game, the first coming 34 seconds after the opening faceoff as Marcus Nilsson scored his team-leading fourth goal of the tournament. Nilsson added another on the power play less than a minute later, after Thomas Jasko was called for hooking.

Two minutes and twenty seconds later, Andreas Svensson came open down the left side, faked a slapshot and passed cross-ice to Dick Axelsson on the side of the net for the 3-0 lead. Filip Gunnarsson added another off a one-timer, and then made a drop pass for another marker giving the Swede’s a five-goal advantage just over halfway through the opening period.

The fifth goal by Sweden prompted a goalie change for Slovakia as Jozef Ondrejky stepped in for Vladimir Neumann. Slovakia got a goal back in the second period when Milan Siller found Jakub Ruckay with a pass up the ice and behind the last Swedish defender, allowing Ruckay to go top shelf to cut the lead to 5-1.

But the Swedes went back up by a goal soon after courtesy of Emil Bejmo, and seconds later Robin Sjoren added another off a one-timer on the power play to give the team a commanding 7-1 lead.

Goals from Carl Berglund, Johan Lilja, and Andreas Svensson, along two more by Nilsson rounded out the scoring as the Swedes rolled to a 10-1 victory.

They will await the results from the next three quarter-final matches before knowing which team they will face in the semi-final round.

USA – Germany 4-1 (1-0, 0-0, 2-0, 1-1)  Postgame

In what was nearly an identical game to the opener played between the two teams last Sunday, the United States overcame a defensively tough Germany team 4-1, advancing to the semi-final round.

"They're a frustrating team to play," said USA head coach Joe Cook. "Every game they play is close and they are very disciplined in the box."

Matt White scored the game’s first goal for the Americans, off of a slapshot from the left circle. The Germans, who in the opening game did a great job in keeping the American offence at bay through the first three periods, were able to replicate their defensive success early on, giving up just the one goal to White.

But team discipline broke down as Germany forward Huba Sekesi drew a major penalty and ten-minute misconduct for spearing an American player at the outset of the second period.

Despite being down a man for four minutes the Germans did not give up a goal, and even though Marcel Brandt took a tripping penalty a minute after his team killed off the major, goaltender Thomas Ower held the fort as the two teams went into halftime with the U.S. holding a slim 1-0 lead.

But the Americans were able to get some insurance early in the third period, during another power play as Kyle Novak was able to jump on a loose puck to the left of the German net and flip it over a sprawled Ower for the 2-0 lead.

The States then pushed it to 3-0 with a power play goal from Travis Now, assisted by Lee. Germany finally responded early in the final period with a score by Marco Pfleger, but the Germans were not able to muster up any more offence, and Team USA added a fourth goal late for good measure to eliminate them from the playoffs.

Finland – Great Britain 7-2 (3-0, 3-1, 1-1, 0-0)  Postgame

Finland defeated Great Britain by a score of 7-2, keeping its unblemished record at the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship intact and setting up a match with Nordic rivals Sweden in the semi-finals.

Markus Jokinen led the way on the scoresheet, notching five points (2G+3A), and Juho Joki-Erkkila chipped in with two goals and two helpers. Jouni Aalto, Marko Virtala and Kim Stromberg rounded out the scoring.

“Winning comes first, but I was happy with the way I played,” said Jokinen. “We had a fast start to the game so it got easier from then one. We need to improve and be better in every game and if we can do this we can have a medal.”

The win means that Finland will once again face Sweden, the team they defeated 7-4 on the first day of the competition. Kari Lothander had a hat trick in that game, including two back-to-back in the fourth period that allowed the Finns to pull away from the Swedes and win the game.

Despite the fact that both teams represent a historic rivalry in both ice and inline, there didn’t seem to be much animosity between the two when speaking to the Finns after the game against Great Britain.

“I like them,” said head coach Timo Nurmberg. “They play a good game and we like to play good games. We have to play like we did in the first game. It’s going to be a great battle.”

As for Great Britain the team is still searching for its first top division win, and will be looking to avoid relegation when it plays against the Czech Republic on Friday.

DIVISION I

Austria – Latvia 3-4 SO (1-0, 1-0, 0-1, 1-2, 0-0, 0-1)

Give the Latvians credit, they sure know how to win when it counts.

After going winless and being outscored 20:8 in the preliminary round of the country’s first ever IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship tournament, Latvia came back from a 2-0 deficit with three straight goals in the second and third periods, only to see Austria pull the goalie late in the game and get the tying goal 3-3.

Neither team was able to solve things in overtime, so Latvia came through in the shootout, pulling off a stunning upset for a team that is playing in its first Inline worlds. Arturs Batraks scored two goals and Rustams Begovs had the shootout winner.

“Our team is made up largely of ice hockey guys,” said team leader Ansis Rudzats. “As the tournament has gone along we’ve gotten some help to adjust ourselves more to the inline game."

"Yesterday we practised for two hours on breakouts, power plays, and penalty kills, and in the morning practice we worked on sharpening the tactics that we learned. I think it is coming together now at the right time for our team.”

With the win Latvia secures a trip to the semi-final round, where things get decidedly more difficult as the team faces off against Division I top seed Slovenia. In the preliminary round game between the two teams, the Latvians clawed back from a 4-1 deficit to get to within a goal of tying the game in the third period, only to have Slovenia outscore them 5-1 the rest of the way en route to a 9-4 victory.

Croatia – Japan 5-2 (2-0, 0-1, 2-0, 1-1)

Croatia moves on to the Division I semi-final round at the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship thanks to a 5-2 victory over Japan.

Marko Tadic and Ivan Jankovic opened the scoring in the first period as Croatia jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Gentaro Tsuchimoto cut the lead to 2-1 in the second, but the Croats answered with three straight goals from Fran Srketic, Jan Novotny, and Niksa Trstenjak to put the game out of reach for the Japanese.

Croatia, which finished in second place behind Slovenia in Group C, will face Australia. Japan will play against Hungary in one of the two placement games on Friday.

Hungary – Australia 1-3 (0-1, 0-0, 0-1, 1-1)

Australia is off to the semi-final round after dropping Hungary 3-1 in the Division I quarter-final game.

Todd Cameron, Christopher Brophy, and Jordan Gavin each had a goal as the Aussies built up a 3-0 lead. Goaltender Michael James made 29 saves and didn’t give up a goal to the Hungarians until late in the fourth period.

Hungary will join Japan in the placement round, while Australia advances to the semi-finals. It is another chance for the Australians to get a medal after finishing in fourth or fifth place the last three tournaments. 

Slovenia – Brazil 7-1 (0-0, 1-0, 3-1, 3-0)

Slovenia took awhile to get its offence going but eventually took care of business, defeating Brazil 7-1 to advance to the semi-final round where it will face surprise quarter-final winners Latvia.

Going into the second half up by one goal, the Slovenian offence kicked into high gear as forward Nejc Sotlar scored his second of the game and Gregor Krivic added another as Slovenia moved up 3-0. Brazil’s Jose Guilardi scored to trim the lead to 3-1, but Domen Vedlin, Rok Simsic, and Matic Kralj scored to put the game away for Slovenia.

The win keeps Slovenia’s promotion hopes alive, while Brazil will have to contend with Austria, which had its own medal hopes derailed following a 4-3 upset by Latvia in a shootout. It could be that Latvia’s win will affect the Brazilians for the worst too, as they draw a team that shut them out 8-0 in their opening game. 
 
ADAM STEISS

Canada wins a thriller - moves on to Semis vs USA

PARDUBICE – Canada moves on to the semi-finals after surviving a tight battle with the Czech Republic, winning 6-5 in the shootout. Team Sweden’s offence is firing on all cylinders as it moves on to the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship semi-final round with a 12-1 blowout of Slovakia. Top-ranked Team USA, the 2013 defending champions, also advanced with a 4-1 defeat of Germany. In Division I, Latvia got its first ever IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship victory, defeating Austria 4-3 in a shootout.

Here are the semi-final matchups:

Top Division:
15:00 - Finland vs. Sweden
17:00 - USA vs. Canada

Division I:
18:00 - Croatia vs. Australia
20:00 - Slovenia vs. Latvia

Czech Republic – Canada 5-6 SO (1-0, 2-1, 0-1, 2-3, 0-0, 0-1) Postgame

In what was the wildest game so far of the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship, the quarter-final matchup between Canada and the Czech Republic ended on the stick of captain Chris Terry, who scored the game-winning shootout goal to send the Canadians back to the semi-final round and complete a dramatic third period comeback.

“Ecstatic,” said goaltender Brent Leggat. “Going in and facing a tough Czech team inside a really loud arena and coming out with a win, I couldn’t be happier.”

Down 3-2 in the final period, 2013 bronze medallists Canada were staring at an early exit from the playoff round and a trip to the placement game.
Things look more grim when Patrik Sebek scored to make it 4-2 for the Czechs, faking a slapshot to make the Canadian defender go down to block, skating around him and beating Leggat between the legs for the two-goal lead.

But the insurance goal evaporated seconds later as Team Canada captain Chris Terry got ahold of a rebound in front of the Czech net to cut the lead back down to one.

Then with just over six and a half minutes to go Canadian Brendan Baumgartner came into the Czech zone and dropped a pass back to linemate Dave Hammond open in the slot for the tying score.

That goal put all the momentum to the Canadian side, and seconds later off a rush Thomas Woods scored to give his team its first lead of the game.

Finding themselves down 5-4, the Czechs went on the power play with 4:30 remaining, and Patrik Sebek converted his second goal of the game, firing a shot from the point that was deflected in front of the net.

Neither team was able to score again in regulation or overtime, so it came down to a battle of the goalies to decide which team would advance to the semi-final round.

First up was Leggat facing Sebek, who feinted and then fired a shot glove side into the back of the net.

Woods then replied for Canada beating Salficky with a backhand deke. Leggat returned the favour on the next attempt by the Czechs, stopping Simo with a pad save. Then Chris Terry converted to put all the pressure on Czech top scorer Martin Vozdecky, who could not beat the glove of Leggat, giving Canada the shootout victory.  

“Looking at the talented players on the Czech roster, we knew who was going to be shooting,” said Canada head coach Jason Stephens. “Fortunately Leggat played great and Chris and Woodsy were able to get pucks in for us.”

“We wanted to win the game in overtime and not have to take it to the shootout, unfortunately the Canadians were the luckier team today,” said goaltender Dusan Salficky.

The Czechs scored the game’s first goal at 11:45 into the first period when Vladimir Kames made a great play coming in from the left side, avoiding the diving pokecheck by Leggat and slotting it home to the delight of the home crowd.

Canada equalized during a power play in the second period. After a scoring chance from Terry, Salficky was unable to corral a loose puck in front of the net and Kyle Sheen pushed it in to tie the game.

The Czechs jumped back ahead thanks to a wristshot from Michal Simo coming into the high slot area and firing the puck straight into the top right corner with less than three minutes left in the second frame.

Then the Czechs added another a minute later, thanks to a great passing sequence between NHLer Ales Hemsky and linemates Ludek Broz and Petr Senkerik, ending with Hemsky passing back to an oncoming Senkerik in the slot area for the score.

Controversy erupted at the start of the third period, when an apparent fourth goal by the Czechs’ Michal Simo was disallowed. The referee initially ruled a goal but then determined that the puck hit the crossbar and deflected out without crossing the goal line. However upon reviewing the play after the game, the IIHF stated that a goal should have been called.

Canada caught another break when Sebek went to the box for interference. On the power play Terry got his second goal of the game, off a wristshot near the point beating Salficky high glove side.

With the win Canada faces North American rivals USA. The last time the two teams played against each other was in the 2013 World Championship preliminary round, a 5-3 win for the Americans.

Sweden – Slovakia 12-1 (5-0, 2-1, 2-0, 3-0)  Postgame

Marcus Nilsson scored five goals in the game, bringing his 2014 Inline total to seven, as Sweden rolled over Slovakia 12-1. 

"I'm very satisfied with how we played today," said head coach Bjorn Ostlund. "We started well with five goals in the first period, Slovakia is not a bad team so I was suprised by how successful we were today."

Sweden went up by two goals in the first two minutes of the game, the first coming 34 seconds after the opening faceoff as Marcus Nilsson scored his team-leading fourth goal of the tournament. Nilsson added another on the power play less than a minute later, after Thomas Jasko was called for hooking.

Two minutes and twenty seconds later, Andreas Svensson came open down the left side, faked a slapshot and passed cross-ice to Dick Axelsson on the side of the net for the 3-0 lead. Filip Gunnarsson added another off a one-timer, and then made a drop pass for another marker giving the Swede’s a five-goal advantage just over halfway through the opening period.

The fifth goal by Sweden prompted a goalie change for Slovakia as Jozef Ondrejky stepped in for Vladimir Neumann. Slovakia got a goal back in the second period when Milan Siller found Jakub Ruckay with a pass up the ice and behind the last Swedish defender, allowing Ruckay to go top shelf to cut the lead to 5-1.

But the Swedes went back up by a goal soon after courtesy of Emil Bejmo, and seconds later Robin Sjoren added another off a one-timer on the power play to give the team a commanding 7-1 lead.

Goals from Carl Berglund, Johan Lilja, and Andreas Svensson, along two more by Nilsson rounded out the scoring as the Swedes rolled to a 10-1 victory.

They will await the results from the next three quarter-final matches before knowing which team they will face in the semi-final round.

USA – Germany 4-1 (1-0, 0-0, 2-0, 1-1)  Postgame

In what was nearly an identical game to the opener played between the two teams last Sunday, the United States overcame a defensively tough Germany team 4-1, advancing to the semi-final round.

"They're a frustrating team to play," said USA head coach Joe Cook. "Every game they play is close and they are very disciplined in the box."

Matt White scored the game’s first goal for the Americans, off of a slapshot from the left circle. The Germans, who in the opening game did a great job in keeping the American offence at bay through the first three periods, were able to replicate their defensive success early on, giving up just the one goal to White.

But team discipline broke down as Germany forward Huba Sekesi drew a major penalty and ten-minute misconduct for spearing an American player at the outset of the second period.

Despite being down a man for four minutes the Germans did not give up a goal, and even though Marcel Brandt took a tripping penalty a minute after his team killed off the major, goaltender Thomas Ower held the fort as the two teams went into halftime with the U.S. holding a slim 1-0 lead.

But the Americans were able to get some insurance early in the third period, during another power play as Kyle Novak was able to jump on a loose puck to the left of the German net and flip it over a sprawled Ower for the 2-0 lead.

The States then pushed it to 3-0 with a power play goal from Travis Now, assisted by Lee. Germany finally responded early in the final period with a score by Marco Pfleger, but the Germans were not able to muster up any more offence, and Team USA added a fourth goal late for good measure to eliminate them from the playoffs.

Finland – Great Britain 7-2 (3-0, 3-1, 1-1, 0-0)  Postgame

Finland defeated Great Britain by a score of 7-2, keeping its unblemished record at the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship intact and setting up a match with Nordic rivals Sweden in the semi-finals.

Markus Jokinen led the way on the scoresheet, notching five points (2G+3A), and Juho Joki-Erkkila chipped in with two goals and two helpers. Jouni Aalto, Marko Virtala and Kim Stromberg rounded out the scoring.

“Winning comes first, but I was happy with the way I played,” said Jokinen. “We had a fast start to the game so it got easier from then one. We need to improve and be better in every game and if we can do this we can have a medal.”

The win means that Finland will once again face Sweden, the team they defeated 7-4 on the first day of the competition. Kari Lothander had a hat trick in that game, including two back-to-back in the fourth period that allowed the Finns to pull away from the Swedes and win the game.

Despite the fact that both teams represent a historic rivalry in both ice and inline, there didn’t seem to be much animosity between the two when speaking to the Finns after the game against Great Britain.

“I like them,” said head coach Timo Nurmberg. “They play a good game and we like to play good games. We have to play like we did in the first game. It’s going to be a great battle.”

As for Great Britain the team is still searching for its first top division win, and will be looking to avoid relegation when it plays against the Czech Republic on Friday.

DIVISION I

Austria – Latvia 3-4 SO (1-0, 1-0, 0-1, 1-2, 0-0, 0-1)

Give the Latvians credit, they sure know how to win when it counts.

After going winless and being outscored 20:8 in the preliminary round of the country’s first ever IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship tournament, Latvia came back from a 2-0 deficit with three straight goals in the second and third periods, only to see Austria pull the goalie late in the game and get the tying goal 3-3.

Neither team was able to solve things in overtime, so Latvia came through in the shootout, pulling off a stunning upset for a team that is playing in its first Inline worlds. Arturs Batraks scored two goals and Rustams Begovs had the shootout winner.

“Our team is made up largely of ice hockey guys,” said team leader Ansis Rudzats. “As the tournament has gone along we’ve gotten some help to adjust ourselves more to the inline game."

"Yesterday we practised for two hours on breakouts, power plays, and penalty kills, and in the morning practice we worked on sharpening the tactics that we learned. I think it is coming together now at the right time for our team.”

With the win Latvia secures a trip to the semi-final round, where things get decidedly more difficult as the team faces off against Division I top seed Slovenia. In the preliminary round game between the two teams, the Latvians clawed back from a 4-1 deficit to get to within a goal of tying the game in the third period, only to have Slovenia outscore them 5-1 the rest of the way en route to a 9-4 victory.

Croatia – Japan 5-2 (2-0, 0-1, 2-0, 1-1)

Croatia moves on to the Division I semi-final round at the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship thanks to a 5-2 victory over Japan.

Marko Tadic and Ivan Jankovic opened the scoring in the first period as Croatia jumped out to a 2-0 lead. Gentaro Tsuchimoto cut the lead to 2-1 in the second, but the Croats answered with three straight goals from Fran Srketic, Jan Novotny, and Niksa Trstenjak to put the game out of reach for the Japanese.

Croatia, which finished in second place behind Slovenia in Group C, will face Australia. Japan will play against Hungary in one of the two placement games on Friday.

Hungary – Australia 1-3 (0-1, 0-0, 0-1, 1-1)

Australia is off to the semi-final round after dropping Hungary 3-1 in the Division I quarter-final game.

Todd Cameron, Christopher Brophy, and Jordan Gavin each had a goal as the Aussies built up a 3-0 lead. Goaltender Michael James made 29 saves and didn’t give up a goal to the Hungarians until late in the fourth period.

Hungary will join Japan in the placement round, while Australia advances to the semi-finals. It is another chance for the Australians to get a medal after finishing in fourth or fifth place the last three tournaments. 

Slovenia – Brazil 7-1 (0-0, 1-0, 3-1, 3-0)

Slovenia took awhile to get its offence going but eventually took care of business, defeating Brazil 7-1 to advance to the semi-final round where it will face surprise quarter-final winners Latvia.

Going into the second half up by one goal, the Slovenian offence kicked into high gear as forward Nejc Sotlar scored his second of the game and Gregor Krivic added another as Slovenia moved up 3-0. Brazil’s Jose Guilardi scored to trim the lead to 3-1, but Domen Vedlin, Rok Simsic, and Matic Kralj scored to put the game away for Slovenia.

The win keeps Slovenia’s promotion hopes alive, while Brazil will have to contend with Austria, which had its own medal hopes derailed following a 4-3 upset by Latvia in a shootout. It could be that Latvia’s win will affect the Brazilians for the worst too, as they draw a team that shut them out 8-0 in their opening game. 
 
ADAM STEISS

2014 IIHF Worlds: Ready to Roll

PARDUBICE – Summer’s almost here and the wheels are set to spin as the 2014 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championship kicks off in the Czech city of Pardubice.

The tournament is as wide open as it’s ever been. Since Sweden’s three straight gold run between 2007 and 2009, there has been three different world champions in the last four years.

If there is a favourite, it would have to be defending champions and record six-time gold medal winners the United States. Since winning the first two Inline World Championships in 1996 and 1997, Team USA has been at or near the top of the inline hockey mountain, finishing out of the medals just four times in 15 tournaments.

“Our success has been based on coming together as fast as we can,” said 29-year-old captain Greg Thompson, a veteran of five inline worlds. “We’ve been working hard in training camp the last week and a lot of guys know each other from playing roller hockey in the States. We adapt pretty well together.”

“There’s a lot of parity, teams have gotten so much better they’re on their wheels a lot more often than before, and nowadays every country can skate well and knows how to play.”

Perennial contenders on the European side, Team Sweden has not tasted gold in four years after appearing in five straight finals. The other North American squad, Canada, finally broke a 13-year gold medal drought winning the 2012 championship in Ingolstadt.

And you can’t count out the host Czechs, not after 2011 when, playing in the very same arena as this year, they won it all in front of thousands of hometown fans. Tournament organizers, and the team as well, are definitely hoping for a repeat.

“It was a great team back then,” said Czech forward Ludek Broz, one of two players left from 2011’s championship team. “But it isn’t easy, every team coming in here is coming to win, you have guys getting together just two or three days before the start of the games, and with a tournament that’s only one week long you have to work together really fast, especially on the little details.”

Beyond Canada, Sweden, USA, and the host Czechs, the field is wide open. Newcomers Great Britain will join the likes of Germany, Slovakia, and Finland in trying to bring down the top dogs of the international inline circuit. But with Finland the last team outside Sweden, Canada, Czech Republic, or the USA to win a gold medal, chances are slim we’ll be seeing a Cinderella story in Pardubice.

On the Division I side, Great Britain made it to the next tier after dropping Austria 5-1 in the 2013 gold medal game. Look for the Austrians and last year’s bronze medallists Hungary to once again contend for promotion.

But both teams will have to get past Slovenia, which fell 8-3 to Finland last year in the relegation round, sending the country down to Division I after having been competing in the top division since 2003.

Australia has been hanging near the medal round in the last few years, and is aiming to make the next leap into contention in 2014. South America will be represented by Brazil, competing for the first time in four years in the IIHF Inline.

Both top division and division I tournament will take place at the main arena in Pardubice, a city of 90,000 people located 120 kilometres east of Prague. In 2011 Pardubice, a six-time national champion in Czech and Czechoslovak ice hockey history, enthusiastically adopted the inline game when thousands of fans came to the CEZ Arena to watch the games.

With the competition wide open, Pardubice better get ready for another fun and action-packed tournament! The games kick off with Brazil-Austria in the first Division I game and USA-Great Britain playing the top division opener.

All top division games will be available to watch online via live stream on IIHF.com.


Courtesy: ADAM STEISS, iihf.com

 

Brett Leggat is looking forward to the absolute best inline hockey in the world

 

At the moment he has two trophies for the best keeper of the tournament from last two years, while having one golden and two bronze medals from recent three championships. Brett Leggat from Team Canada is heading to Pardubice to keep this streak alive.

After three years you are coming back to Pardubice in the net of Team Canada. Looking forward to your return to Pardubice?
Yes, I am definitely looking forward to being back in the Czech Republic. I had an amazing time in Pardubice in 2011 and really enjoyed the trip. The fan support that the Czech team received that year was electric and I´m looking forward to staying about a week after the tournament and enjoying Prague.

In 2011 Team Canada brought home bronze medals from Pardubice, how do you remember the tournament?
The tournament in 2011 was a great experience for our team. After joining the IIHF squad after years of being with the FIRS organization I was pleasantly surprised with how professional the tournament was run and the high quality of hockey that was played. Any time you leave an IIHF event with a medal you have to look back and look at it as a success. We beat two excellent teams in Finland and Sweden in the playoff rounds and were very pleased with that.

It’s been great time for both you and the team last three years. One golden and two bronze medals combined with two individual trophies for the best goalkeeper. What’s the goal this year?
Yes, we´ve been extremely fortunate to come back home with three medals in the past three years. It actually is a very tough thing to accomplish. I don´t believe too many teams have won medals three years in a row so looking back we´re hopefully going to use our experience as a positive and have another successful run. In regards to winning the goalkeeper awards it is truly humbling. With so many excellent goalkeepers at this tournament it really can be won by anyone. I think our defensive core (French, Henderson, Ross, Corbeil) had a huge part in assisting me keeping as many pucks out of the net as possible and the award would certainly not be possible without their help.

You will face Germany, Sweden and Finland in the round robin. What do you expect from those matches? Are you aiming for the win in the group?
Of course any round robin you enter you want to come out as the top seed to play the lowest seed from the other pool in the quarter finals, but obviously this year is going to be extremely tough. Germany, Sweden and Finland are all excellent teams with some remarkable pro experience so we will definitely have our work cut out for us and must be ready to play our best hockey from the very first game. I truly think any of those three teams could win the world championships so I´m expecting very tough games throughout.

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Article origionally published by Petr Vančura, to continue reading Leggat's interview please click here.