Austria edges Germany
Austria edges Germany
Komarek's shootout goal gives Austrians hope
The 22-year-old EC Salzburg forward slowed down, kicked his skate back, and then tucked home a forehand deke.
"That's my move," said Komarek. "I used it once before in this tournament. I try to fake the goalie and when he goes down I deke him. If not, I shoot. He went down and it went well."
The Austrians have one round-robin game left against Canada. A regulation or overtime win over the undefeated Group A leader would keep them in the elite division for 2016. Failing that, they will need favourable results from the Sweden-France or Latvia-France games.
Austria has been relegated to Division I in each of its last five elite-division appearances (2005, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013) and hopes to avoid the same fate in Prague.
The Germans trailed twice in regulation time but fought back to tie it up both times. However, Austrian coach Dan Ratushny's squad carried the play, especially in the second and third periods, and deserved this hard-fought triumph.
"We've been in that situation so many times with the national team," said captain Thomas Raffl. "Everybody is used to being criticized for us having our back to the wall and stopping playing when we're leading. We wanted to keep going to the end."
The game concludes Germany’s run at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. There is no scenario under which the Germans can be relegated. The result also puts Switzerland into the quarter-finals.
In regulation time, Thomas Raffl and Rafael Rotter scored for Austria, and Michael Wolf and Patrick Reimer scored for Germany.
"Yesterday we had a tough game against the Czechs and we worked hard, but we knew we couldn't get to the quarter-finals," said Wolf. "Maybe they started the game better than we did, but we had good goaltending that kept us in the game."
It was a patient, grinding affair with few great scoring opportunities. However, late third-period goals by both sides pumped up the adrenaline.
Shots on goal favoured Austria 33-17, with Dennis Endras in net for Germany and Bernhard Starkbaum for Austria.
With a little over six minutes left in the first period, Endras positioned himself perfectly to block a Komarek one-timer from the right faceoff circle.
The Austrians opened the second period with a quality scoring chance as Endras foiled Manuel Latusa with a right pad stop from in tight.
Austria finally drew first blood at 14:33 of the middle frame. Thomas Raffl, the Austrian captain, motored through the neutral zone and used defenceman Benedikt Kohl as a partial screen before blowing a slap shot through Endras’s legs.
"I wanted to shoot right away but I saw their defenceman backing up," said Raffl. "I held onto the puck one more second and I tried to use him as a screen. I don't think the goalie saw too much of the shot."
After some good puck possession in the Austrian end, the Germans got the equalizer at 4:13 of the third period. From the left faceoff circle, Wolf zinged a perfect shot top corner on the glove side.
"There was a little bit of a scrum and I saw my teammate got to the puck first," said Wolf. "He poked it to me and I took a wrist shot and it went in. That was good."
Nearing the six-minute mark, Rieder nearly set up Wolf for the go-ahead goal on a 2-on-1, but Starkbaum came across with a splendid left skate stop.
With 5:38 remaining, Austria retook the lead. Florian Muhlstein stepped in from the point and unleashed a blast that deflected off Rotter, who was cruising past the crease and eluded Endras through traffic.
With two minutes left, Reimer floated a shot from the right point past Starkbaum, as Nicolas Krammer provided a screen in front. The goal seemed to take the veteran netminder by surprise.
"I think against France and Latvia we dominated the game -- we just didn't score," said Komarek. "I think we did that again today. We've had trouble scoring all tournament long. We scored two today and should have had three points, but they got a lucky goal two minutes before the end."
The Austrians thought they'd won it with 13 seconds left when Michael Raffl's centering pass deflected in off Brian Lebler's skate, but it was immediately waved off because he was in the crease.
With an attendance of 11,302, Austrian fans outnumbered their German counterparts and sang lustily throughout, and Czech children also packed the O2 Arena.
Austria’s all-time World Championship record versus Germany, dating back to 1933, now stands at four wins, two ties, and four losses.
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