Slovakia won its first International Hockey Lineal Championship defence in Helsinki on the backs of a two goal third period performance from Tomáš Kopecký to defeat Kazakhstan 4-2 at the 2012 World Championships.
Slovakia opened the scoring just 68 seconds into the game, with Dominik Graňák banging in his own rebound in front of Kazakh goalie Vitali Yeremeyev to take the 1-0 lead. Kazakhstan would tie ten minutes later, however, on a slick backhander from behind the net off the stick of Yevgeni Rymarev, fooling Slovak netminder Ján Laco to tie things up after one period. Slovakia held Kazakhstan to just five shots in the second, but were unable to convert anything past Yeremeyev until a Libor Hudáček power play tic-tac-toe play with 2:11 to go in the period put Slovakia ahead 2-1.
Surprisingly, Kazakhstan, who has only held the IHLC once, would tie the game again, this time just 3:15 into the third, with Konstantin Pushkaryov pouncing on a rebound into a wide open net, past a diving Laco, to make the score 2-2. Kopecký would regain the lead for the second time just over three minutes later, ripping a shot from one knee on a cross-ice feed from Ivan Baranka to put Slovakia ahead 3-2. But before they had a chance for one last comeback, Kazakhstan shot themselves in the foot on a too many players on the ice penalty with 1:26 remaining in regulation, rendering it impossible to pull Yeremeyev for an extra attacker. A 2-on-1 goal by Kopecký with 13 seconds remaining locked in the win for Slovakia, 4-2.
With the win, Slovakia wins its first successful defence of the International Hockey Lineal Championship it won from the United States two days prior, Slovakia’s tenth IHLC reign. Canada entered the tournament as IHLC champions, winning one before dropping the title to Team USA, who in turn then lost to Slovakia. This was the first meeting between Slovakia and Kazakhstan for the IHLC since the 2006 Turin Olympics, where Slovakia retained the IHLC in a 2-1 win. Slovakia faces Belarus in group play next for the IHLC.
01:08 – GOAL – Graňák (Šatan, Hudáček)
11:18 – GOAL – Rymarev (Novopashin, Shemelin)
23:26 – PEN – Radivojevič, tripping
31:31 – PEN – Shemelin, high sticking
32:38 – PEN – Kopecký, slashing
36:50 – PEN – Fadeyev, hooking
37:49 – PP GOAL – Hudáček (Graňák, Chára)
43:15 – GOAL – Pushkaryov (Zhailauov, Upper)
44:34 – PEN – Korabeinikov, hooking
48:18 – GOAL – Kopecký (Baranka, Sekera)
58:34 – PEN – team, too many players
59:47 – PP GOAL – Kopecký (Handzuš, Radivojevič)
W: Laco (20-22)
L: Yeremeyev (29-33)
SHOTS ON GOAL
10+11+12 = 33
8+5+9 = 22
Goaltenders: Peter Hamerlík, Ján Laco. Defence: Ivan Baranka, Zdeno Chára (C), Dominik Graňák (A), Andrej Sekera, Michal Sersen, Tomáš Starosta, René Vydarený. Forwards: Milan Bartovič, Mário Bližňák, Michal Handzuš, Marcel Haščák, Marcel Hossa, Libor Hudáček, Tomáš Kopecký, Michel Miklik, Juraj Mikúš, Branko Radivojevič, Miroslav Šatan (A), Tomáš Surový, Tomáš Tatar.
Goaltenders: Vitali Kolesnik, Vitali Yeremeyev. Defence: Yevgeni Fadeyev, Vladislav Kolesnikov, Andrei Korabeinikov, Vitali Novopashin (A), Roman Savchenko, Denis Shemelin, Alexei Troshinski, Sergei Yakovenko. Forwards: Yevgeni Bumagin, Dmitri Dudarev, Vadim Krasnoslobodtsev, Fyodor Polishuk, Konstantin Pushkaryov, Konstantin Romanov, Yevgeni Rymarev, Konstantin Savenkov, Andrei Spiridonov, Dmitri Upper (C), Alexei Vorontsov, Talgat Zhailauov (A).