by Lisa Brown on 01/01/12 at 12:00 AM ET
Neither team had the start to this game that they wanted, but Slovakia certainly found the finish. In what has been the most exciting hockey game in the Pool A preliminaries, Slovakia found the will and the way to come back from a deficit and score three goals in 3:01. Simply incredible.
While the Swiss were without one of their only NHL drafted players in Sven Bartschi, who also happens to be a Calgary Flames prospect. It is too bad that Bertschy is out with injury, this could have brought more interest to the game; yet another battle of Alberta with Edmonton Oiler prospects Martin Marincin and Martin Gernat playing for Slovakia.
The Swiss were the first to find their feet and score although neither team had an easy time carrying the puck into the offensive zone or setting up any kind of play.
Because both teams struggled with puck procession and passes through the opening minutes of the game, and perhaps this was further indication that these two teams are comparable.
While neither Slovakia nor Switzerland are projected to be in the gold medal game, they were both sleeper teams of sorts. Switzerland gave Sweden a run for their money on Wednesday and Slovakia and the Russians were caught off guard by Slovakia the same day.
The story for Slovakia is once more that the Marty Party, Edmonton Oilers prospects Martin Gernat and Martin Marincin, kept their team in this game and were the first Oiler prospects at this tournament to score.
Marincin was first on the scoreboard, the first Oiler prospect to score at this tournament. Not to be outdone, Gernat scored a power play goal of his own.
It was also Detroit Red Wings prospect Thomas Jurco that made some noise up front coming up with three assists and once again getting under the skin of the Swiss players. From this small sample size of games, Jurco looks to be a definite player to watch in the Detroit Red Wings system.
Jurco commented on how big this win was for his team, “The last few years for Slovakia have not been very good. It’s a big thing for our hockey, for our country. All of our parents, our families are cheering for us and supporting us and so for our small country it’s a really big thing and we’re really happy that we could be here and that we could do it.”
Detroit Red Wings prospect #13 Tomas Jurco has been a key to Slovakia’s success
After the loss Slovakia suffered at the hands of Sweden, the Marty Party were visibly exhausted and distraught with the loss. This time, the nickname suited the situation. Instead of “bad” Gernat had a few new words to describe this game;“It was unbelievable. I feel really good now because we won this game and it was so important to us. Everyone on the team gave their heart and it was really good for us.”
His defencive partner Marincin “I’m very happy. We waited a long time for this game and we win.” Marincin still struggles with his English, but the word “happy” was easily and clearly heard over and over again.
The Slovakian head coach Ernest Bokros was also happy to address the media, and pleased with the way that his team responded in the third period to find the win. “The goal was to go through to the next round. Now we can put a check mark next to that goal. Next we probably face Finland which is a very strong team. We know that, we’ve faced them before. We have to prepare as much as we can to be competitive.”
Although the Swiss team did not find the win this afternoon, there is still something to be said about the fact that they almost had this game. Without the Slovakian third period comeback, Switzerland would have been the locker room celebrating the New Year sooner.
With one more game to go in the 2011 portion of this tournament, the Swedes and Russians prepare to take the ice. There may be a new most exciting game of the tournament before too long.
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Lisa McRitchie is a fairly new writer, online at least, but makes up for inexperience with passion for the game of hockey and memories of Mrs. Leskiw’s English AP class; who knew they would pay off one day.
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