International Ice Hockey Federation

Celebrations in blue & white

Celebrations in blue & white

Kazakhstan, Italy earn promotion, will play in Minsk

Published 03.09.2013 16:02 GMT+3 | Author Martin Merk
Celebrations in blue & white
Kazakhstan’s Yevgeni Blokhin tries to bring the puck past Italian goalkeeper Andreas Bernard. Photo: Laszlo Mudra
Kazakhstan and Italy will play in the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Belarus, replacing the relegated teams Austria and Slovenia.

For both nations it’s a return to the top-16 after having been relegated in 2012.

The Kazakhs won the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Budapest. They recovered from a historic loss to host nation Hungary and blanked Italy 3-0 in the deciding game for first place on the last day.

“It’s great to get back to the top division. We kind of made up for the loss against Hungary,” said Kazakh forward Konstantin Pushkaryov.

“In the games before we were not ready. We knew we can beat these teams here but Hungary put us in the right spot and we started to work. Everybody worked as a team against Italy and that led to the success. We cannot always be on attack and score goals, we have to work first on our defence.”

For Pushkaryov, who once played 17 NHL games for the Los Angeles Kings and has been with the Kazakh KHL team Barys Astana since 2010, it will be the second World Championship in the top division. And this time he would like to stay there.

“It will be an interesting tournament,” Pushkaryov said. “We want to win there, we want to stay there. We will work all year to keep the success up.”

The Italians worked better on their defence in Budapest and won four games in the tournament before falling to Kazakhstan. The second-place finish led them to promotion as well.

“We worked our hardest but couldn't capitalize on our scoring chances. We are disappointed not winning the gold medal, but we are extremely happy that we’re back in the top division,” Italy coach Tom Pokel said.

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Italy’s promotion was already known after their 4-0 record after four games thanks to a 2-1 victory over Hungary. Already two years ago Italy got promoted thanks to a one-goal game against Hungary, this time repeating history in front of over 8,000 hostile fans at the Laszlo Papp Sportarena in Budapest.

“We couldn’t be happier for our team and what we’ve accomplished,” said game-winning goal scorer Patrick Iannone.

“We knew how it was two years ago. We knew it would be the same tonight. It’s an amazing and loud crowd. It’s fun to play here. It’s this kind of game you want to play.”

“It was a tough game as we expected. They were going hard but we came out pretty strong from the first shift,” Italy’s Alexander Egger said.

“It was not our best game but at the end we made it. We are looking forward to staying up. It’s going to be tough. We’ll play against better opponents but we don’t want to go up and down all the time”

Hungary again missed promotion tightly and had to settle for bronze. They had a historic win against Kazakhstan, but also suffered their first-ever loss to Korea, not to mention being beaten 2-1 by their nemesis Italy on home ice again. Japan finished the race for promotion in fourth place before Korea and Great Britain.


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