International Ice Hockey Federation

Croatia recovers

Croatia recovers

Defeats Lithuania on the power play

Published 14.04.2015 21:12 GMT+2 | Author Joeri Loonen
Croatia recovers
Mark Dekanich came up with 30 saves in a 4-1 win over Lithuania. Photo: Thijs de Witte
Two power play goals were key in Croatia's 4-1 victory over Lithuania. It was the first win for the gold medal hopefuls who trailed 1-0.

All four Croatian goals were greeted with a loud "Yeah". That isn't that surprising since each of them were scored by a player with North-American roots. Today they showed that the strategy to get players with Croatian roots eligible to play for the national team pays off.

Not just the goals but also all assists were coming from players who had become eligible to play for Croatia in recent years.

It took a while though before the victory over Lithuania materalized. Whereas the Croatian team started the tournament as one of the favourites it was Lithuania who started off strong. Buoyed by their 1-0 victory over the Netherlands yesterday they pressed forward forcing Mark Dekanich to come in action in the early stages.

THe KHL Medvescak Zagreb netminder was helpless when Ugnius Cizas released a screened shot that flew in over Dekanich' shoulder and into the net for a surprising Lithuanian lead.

Playing full of confidence thanks to another stellar game of goaltender Mantas Armalis, Lithuania continued to frustrate their opponents and were close to doubling their lead when Paulius Gintautas' one-timer looked destined for net. A flying save by Dekanich denied the Lithuanian forward and kept Croatia within a goal.

That goal finally came halfway the second period. Nathan Perkovich skipped by a defenceman before placing a perfect deke to fool Armalis. It was the first goal the goaltender and Lithiania had to concede this tournament.

Soon it became two.

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While putting on more pressure, Croatia forced Lithuania into taking penalties. Mike Glumac hit the underside of the bar but a few minutes later, it was Andy Sertic who perfectly executed during a two-man advantage.

"Their goalie played great and showed why he's so highly regarded in the Sweden,' forward Ryan Kinasewich said. "It took us a while before we managed to find a way to beat him."

Croatia's 2-1 lead heading into the third period was largely thanked to a superb defensive display by Kenny MacAuley. With his goaltender down and out, MacAuley made a diving safe to stop the puck from going in which earned him a big hug from Dekanich afterwards.

In the final period, the Croatians finally were able to dominate large parts of the play and when you could hear a sigh of relief from the Croatian bench when Kinasewich fired home the 3-1 on yet another power play.

Andy Murray completed the Croatian party with an empty net goal.

A win in regular time over Lithuania was vital for Croatia who would have become dependent on the results of other teams if they wanted to keep their promotion hopes alive. They are now still very much in contention with four points from two games, one less than Great Britain while Korea faces the Netherlands tonight and try to stay unbeaten.

"We really needed this win and are glad that we've got rid of the zero in the W-column," admitted Ryan Kinasewich. "We can now use the rest day to get ready for the final three games." And time is a rare commodity during such tournaments so will be used to its maximum effect. 

"We still need to work on our systems," Alberta-born Kinasewich knew. "We haven't had the time to play together with this group so that's certainly something we can improve on."

Lithuania remain mid table with the three points picked up yesterday and can use the non-playing day to prepare for their next game against Baltic rivals Estonia.


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