Germany and Italy will meet in the fifth-place game in the 2015 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A-Pool after winning their respective classification matches on Thursday (30 April) at the HARBORCENTER in Buffalo, New York in the USA.
GERMANY 1, CZECH REPUBLIC 0 After missing out on both the Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 Paralympics, Germany made their way back to the A-Pool for the first time in six years this season, and have already gone beyond their expectations in Buffalo by surprising the Czech Republic, 1-0, to advance to the fifth-place game.
Against the Czech Republic, 18-year-old forward Felix Schrader scored Germany's first goal of the Championships at the 9:19 mark in the second period, and that is all the seventh-seeded team needed to stay alive. The players on the bench went nuts when Schrader - who said he models his game after South Korea's speedy Seung-Hwan Jung - scored.
"It's a fantastic feeling," Schrader said. "It meant everything to get that goal."
For the remainder of the game, Germany blocked all the shots that came their way, with captain Frank Rennhack containing Czech Republic's Michal Geier, who had already scored three goals in the tournament.
"It's a great feeling to be back and to play with the best teams in the world, and to now stay in the A-Pool with only one goal in the tournament is amazing," Rennhack said.
"We worked very, very hard for this. It's extremely important for us to stay in the A-Pool because we will get more funding and support, and hopefully it will help us qualify for the next Paralympics."
Simon Kunst recorded the shutout in net for Germany, who now have the chance to tie their highest finish ever at a World Championships, having placed fifth at the 2008 edition of the event.
The Czech Republic, who finished fourth at the last two World Championships A-Pool, will now face Japan in the seventh-place game and will be relegated to the B-Pool for the 2017 edition of the event.
ITALY 5, JAPAN 1 The Italian attack triumphed in their 5-1 win over Japan with two goals from team captain Andrea Chiarotti.
Chiarotti scored two even-strength goals in the first period to put the reigning European champions up early and provide them with enough confidence to carry them through the game.
"That was very important because before the game we talked about playing the first period with passion, playing smart and not giving Japan any scoring chances," Chiarotti. "The first period put us in the right mentality and changed the game."
Just over a minute into the second, Planker tipped the puck off the left pipe, allowing it to slide into the net for another Italian score on the power play, increasing his team's lead to three.
With just six seconds left in the second stanza, Masaharu Kumagai put Japan on the board, with assists credited to Satoru Sudo and Kazuhiro Takahashi.
But in the third period, Sandro Kalegaris found the net on a pass from Planker, and then Christoph Depaoli added an insurance goal to close out the scoring for Italy.
Gabriele Arudo played all 45 minutes in net for Italy, recording nine saves on the day.
Chiarotti said Italy will dedicate this victory to Gianluca Cavaliere, one of the team's defencemen who was not able to make the trip to Buffalo due to a last-minute injury.
Mitsuru Nagase had 14 saves for Japan, who will now be relegated to the B-Pool for the 2017 edition of the event.
CHAMPIONSHIPS COVERAGE Live coverage of all the games at the World Championships, along with results, statistics and ticket information can be found at Buffalo2015.com.
Up-to-date details of where games can be watched live nationally can be found at Buffalo2015.com.
IPC Ice Sledge Hockey will tweet live updates from on site in Buffalo from @IPCISH and is encouraging all fans to use the #Buffalo2015 hashtag when tweeting about the tournament.
Images from the Championships are available at www.Flickr.com/Photos/Parlaympic. Media wishing to receive high-resolution images should contact Lucy.Dominy@paralympic.org.