Italy and Czech Republic advance to ice sledge hockey fifth-place game in Sochi

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March 12, 2014 (ISN) – Swedish goaltender Ulf Nilsson made save after save, 31 in total, on Wednesday (12 March) at Shayba Arena, but Italy’s offence was too powerful, storming back from two goals behind to win 3-2 in overtime in ice sledge hockey classification action at the Sochi 2014 Paralympic Winter Games.

The win put Italy in the fifth-place game in Sochi, where they will now face the Czech Republic on Friday (14 March).

Italy came out firing in the contest, launching eight shots on Nilsson in the first period. Sweden caught a break just before the period ended when Per Kasperi scored his second goal of Sochi 2014 on Sweden’s first shot of the game to give Sweden the 1-0 advantage at the first intermission.

The second period would be a bit more even, with both teams exchanging good chances. At the 9:00 mark, Kasperi would streak in again to score a power-play goal and his second of the game to put Sweden up 2-0.

“In the last days I can’t believe our bad luck,” Italian defenceman Gianluigi Rosa said. “Sometimes something happens, but this time the first two periods were just unlucky.”

Italy made a goaltending change at the start of the third period, putting Gabriele Araudo into the net and that seemed to spark the Italians.

Italy dominated the period, finally getting on the board three minutes in, getting a lucky bounce that would leave Rosa an open net and cut the Swedish lead to one.

Italian head coach Massimo Da Rin woud call a timeout with less than three minutes remaining and his players would answer. A little more than 30 seconds later, Greg Leperdi slid one past Nilsson and it would be a tie game.

In the overtime period, Italy kept up the momentum and finally after a scramble in front of the net, Gianluca Cavaliere would score to give Sweden the victory.

“The most important thing for the team today was belief, to play with belief, with heart, be tough,” da Rin said. “The first thing is not to panic, don’t be nervous, play normally.”

The Czech Republic were also successful in qualifying for the fifth-place game with a 2-0 victory over South Korea in the other classification game.

In tight battle with both teams creating a lot of chances, it was South Korea who had the advantage after one period. They outshot the Czech Republic 7-1, but Michal Vapenka was not fazed and kept it scoreless.

Despite being outshot again in the second period, a snap shot from the blue line by Jiri Berger got past some bodies in front and got past South Korean goaltender Man-Gyun Yu at the 18:27 mark.

Even after 16 penalty minutes combined between the two teams in the period, the score would remain 1-0 after 30 minutes.

Tomas Kvoch got the Czech Republic fans back on their feet 10 minutes into the third period when his shot from the blue line went in to make it 2-0.

The Czech Republic would hold on for the victory with Vapenka making 19 saves and recording his first shutout of Sochi 2014.

The Czech Republic will now play Italy for fifth place on Friday at 20:00 (MSK) while Sweden and South Korea will face off at 13:00 (MSK) in the seventh-place game.

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