The Ice Blacks lost their opening game tonight to Serbia by a score of 6-4. Serbia came into the game as the heavy favourites being the team relegated down from Division I in 2010. The only match between the two countries at the Senior Men’s level was played in 2004 in Lithuania with the Serbians dominating that game to the tune of 22-2.
The Ice Blacks were determined to erase that loss and right the register. Before the game we had talked about relaxing our nerves going into our first game of the tournament. Serbia had been upset by Belgium in the first game yesterday and were not happy. We knew they’d come out flying but the lack of us having played yesterday with the withdrawl of the North Koreans and not yet being ready for the pace of the Serbs saw us undone early on.
We had a positive start to the game gaining control of the opening face off, getting deep in the Serb zone and narrowly missing our first shooting opportunity. The Sebs countered and were the benificiaries of a lucky bounce in the neutral zone going in on NZ goal keeper Zak Nothling and scoring the first goal just 22 seconds into the game. The Serbians kept the pressure up and by the seven mnute mark had made the score 3-0.
Coach Jeff Bonazzo called a timeout to rally the troups and remind them why they were here. This seemed to work as the Ice Blacks went on a roll winning shift after shift from that point culminating with a powerplay goal on a set play where Jordan Challis gained the zone, fed Eaden who quickly hit Dan Nicholls at the pivot for a shot on net. The rebound came to a perfectly placed Eaden, who slotted it behind a spralling Serb keeper.
The Serbs managed one more goal on a missed backcheck to go into the first break ahead 4-1.
The second period was the Zak Nothling Show as the Ice Blacks picked up their game another notch keeping the slate clean through out the period. Nothling did what great goalies do; give their team a chance to win turning aside all 24 shots he faced in the period. Between the second and third we talked about building on our positives and winning another battle each, committing to playing with a greater intencity.
The Serbs managed another goal in the first two minutes of the third but we weren’t through yet. Braden Lee got his first of the tourney on a powerplay off a solid team play where Brett Spiers passed to Mitchell Oak at the top of the umbrella for a shot on net. Lee was in his place to bang home a rebound as we out muscled the Serbians in front of their own net.
The line of Eaden, Challis and Heyd kept the pressure on forechecking hard and turning over a puck behind the Serb goal where Eaden quickly walked out and wrapped home his second of the game.
Eaden’s third goal was scored on a very odd play were a Serb player carried the puck back into his own zone and pretty much passed the puck right to him in the slot. Chris calmly sniped it to the low glove side with the goaltender not even getting close.
The rest of the game the Ice Blacks pressed hard but could not come away with the equalizer.
The team is determined to show the world the can beat higher ranked nations and will regroiup tomorrow before playing Belgium on Wednesday.
Goals: Chris Eaden (3), Braden Lee.
Assists: Mitchell Oak (2), Dan Nicholls, Brett Speirs and Paris Heyd