WM IA, Day 3: Romanian Shock & Asian Derby

Things got tight on Day 3 of the IIHF World Championship Division I Group A in Bolzano, with three boundary clashes, all won by the lower-ranked teams entering the day. As a result, all six teams are now within three points of each other and most still have a realistic chance of progressing. Hungary and Slovenia are at the top with 6 points, while at the other end, Korea and Romania are tied with 3 points.

Hungary 1 – Romania 2

In an absolute shock start to the day, previously-undefeated Romania edged out previously unbeaten Hungary. The game remained scoreless after 40 minutes, and despite holding a strong advantage, Hungary only held a 16-15 edge in shots. However, the Hungarians increased the pressure early in the third period with several high-danger chances.

But against the run of play, it was Romania who opened the scoring at 10:31 when Palas Peter ripped a shot from the top of the circle over the blocker of Pence Paulis. Hungary then went on the attack again and tied it at 5:20 when Zeteny Hadobas' shot from mid-air was deflected by Janos Hari and Zoltan Toke.

„It was a roller coaster,” Peter said of the third period. „We were 1-0 for a long time and I think everyone believed we would win 1-0, but when they scored, the biggest thing was that we didn't concede like the last two games.”

With a minute to play, Otto Sandor Czechli took the puck from the right wing, cut across the front of the net with his forehand, and in close, Polis took a shot that got a slice and trickled across the goal line. .

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„That's crazy!” Romanian captain Roberto Cliga scored the primary assist on the winning goal. „To be honest, we didn't expect it, but we tried our luck and it was an incredible feeling. Even the goal scorer, he couldn't believe it – I could see it on his face.

Gliga said: „We've taken baby steps. In the first game we had some moments where we played well, then against Slovenia we had almost two periods in the game and now we've taken the next step where we played well the whole game.

Japan 4 – Korea 3

In another tight game between regional rivals, three times Korea took the lead and three times Japan responded. The Japanese didn't take their first lead until the final seven minutes, but it was enough to seal the victory and leapfrog Korea on the points table.

„It's my first year with the national team, so I don't know much about the competition, but I know we didn't win much against Korea,” said Japanese defender Kazuki Lawler, who scored and assisted on his team's first goal. On the winner. „I think they're pretty confident they're going to beat us.”

„We're very disappointed now. I can't believe it,” said a deflated Korean forward Sangyeob Kim, who had two assists. „We still have games against Romania and Italy and we really have to prepare for them. We need to rest a bit and train well tomorrow and get ready for those games now. That's it.”

Tied 2-2 after two, Korea struck 14 seconds into the third period, Dan Ku Lee's shot from the point clear beating a screened Yuda Narisawa, who was starting his third straight game for Japan.

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Yu Sato tied it again with 8:20 left, taking the puck inside the Korean zone and beating Yeonsung Lee to the glove side. Then Japan took the lead at 1:27. Off the rush, Kohei Sato made a backhand pass to Chota Isokai, who scored his second goal of the game.

„It wasn't our set play. We just went with the flow,” Lawler said. „It was a great goal.”

Slovenia 2 – Italy 0

Slovenia enjoyed a vast edge in play, a 16-6 edge in shots, in the first period, but the only goal was a fortunate one, Roc Degar's concentrated effort from behind the net banking the Italian skate. Or luck?

„Yeah, it was just luck but I gave it a go because I saw a couple of guys in front and I said, 'I'm going to try to hit some of them,'” Tikar laughed.

Italy had a 9-3 shot edge in the second period, but did not score. The Italians' best chance of the first 40 minutes came late in the middle frame, when Daniel Franck was unable to convert a pass with an open net in front of him as the large Bolzano crowd booed in unison.

„We knew they would try to attack, so we waited and tried to create breakouts,” Tigar said. „They got a couple of power plays, we blocked shots, the goalie was incredible, and it was an important win.”

Early in the third period, Italy went on the power play to try to equalize and had some great looks, but couldn't bury a chance. Shortly after returning to full strength, Slovenia went 2-0 up when he rounded the Italian net and found Anse Kuralt at the far post to beat Damian Clara high, glove side.

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„At the beginning of the game, I think we gave them too much respect,” Italian forward Diego Costner said. „We didn't press them, they got into our zone easily and created chances. When we played our game in the second and third periods, we were able to put them under pressure and we had some good chances to score. We have to try to shoot faster and go to the net harder. And the goals will go in and we'll have to do well on Friday and Saturday.”

Italy continued to press, but couldn't solve Caspar Groselj, who turned in a 30-save shutout.

Everyone gets a day off on Thursday and then on Friday we have Korea vs Romania, Slovenia vs Japan and Italy vs Hungary. After that, everyone knew the situation going into the final day of action on Saturday.

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