Photo: IA News-KazakhstanA 3:0 victory against already promoted Italy secured Kazakhstan's ticket to Minsk. Two goals by Roman Starchenko and a 22 save shutout for Vitali Kolesnik was enough for the Kazakhs to seal their promotion.
While Italy secured promotion with their victory over Hungary on Friday night, Kazakhstan still had it all to play for, as needed to win I order to book their ticket to Minsk for 2014. Italy elected to go with Andreas Bernard in net instead of Adam Dennis, and they were given an early powerplay opportunity thirty seconds in but they failed to generate much on the man advantage. There was a sizeable Hungarian crowd in the Budapest SportArena today, as an Italian victory would mean Hungary would play for promotion against Japan in the evening game, but they had their heads in their hands eleven minutes into the first period as Kazakhstan took the lead. While on a powerplay, Talgat Zhailauov was first to the rebound effort off of a Roman Savchenko shot. Andreas Bernard, in his first action of the tournament, would make a number of good stops later in the period, making a great glove save on Vitali Novopashin with six minutes left, and as the period went on, Kazakhstan looked the more threatening. Yevgeni Blokhin was allowed to creep towards the back post, and the pass from the right wing found him but he put the one timer wide. Immediately after that the Italians sprung a 3 on 1 break, and after receiving the centering feed from Giulio Scandella, Nathan di Casmirro let off a one timer which deflected off a leg before making it to a sprawling Vitali Kolesnik. Talgat Zhailauov also had a great chance to get his second of the game in the final minute of the period, but his quick break was denied by an expert diving pokecheck by Armin Hofer.
The second period was all one way traffic for Kazakhstan, as they fired 21 shots on Andreas Bernard. After killing an early penalty, Kazakhstan doubled their lead with a goal four minutes into the period as Andreas Bernard made the save on a Yevgeni Fadeyev shot, he fell backwards, meaning that Roman Starchenko had all the time in the world to control the puck and shoot it into the gaping net. The rest of the period was littered with penalties, with Kazakhstan continuing to impress with the man advantage, while Italy looked off the pace somewhat. With Vincent Rocco in the box for Italy, Kazakhstan created a boatload of chances, with Yevgeni Blokhin and Viktor Alexandrov getting two whacks at the puck each, Bernard making a ridiculous sprawling stick save to deny the latter from making it 3:0 to Kazakhstan. The Kazakhs went into the period break with a two goal advantage, and promotion back to Pool A within their grasp.
The Hungarian fans were getting restless in the third period as Italy continued to lack the spark which was a part of their previous four performances in the World Championships. They were given chances to get back in the game by the Kazakhs, but Italy failed to convert on two powerplays in succession, Anton Gander having the best chance but he fired a slapshot high over the net, much to the chagrin of the home support. Vitali Kolesnik continued his fine performance for Kazakhstan, making the saves he had to as the Italians struggled to muster many chances. With Luca Felicetti in the box, Kazakhstan had a chance to seal their promotion as Fyodor Polishuk was given a breakaway after receiving a stretch pass from netminder Vitali Kolesnik, but the Kazakh forward fired wide on his shot. Bernard would continue to impress, making a fine glove save on Fadeyev with five and a half minutes left in the third period, but all in all it was relatively simple for the Kazakh side to take the three points and seal the deal as Division 1A Champions, leapfrogging Italy on account of head-to-head performance. With two and a half minutes to go, Kolesnik made a quick pad save on a Christian Borgatello shot from the left side of the zone, but quickly Kazakhstan would go up the other end of the ice and pick up the empty netter, as Starchenko put away his second of the game and his championship-leading fifth goal. The victory for Kazakhstan would also mean that the final game of the day between Hungary and Japan would have little relevance except for the pride of each nation, as only third place would be up for grabs.