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Saturday
Jun102017

Game # 6: Quarter-finals vs USA

In 2015 the USA eliminated Greece in the semi-finals and went on to play for the Gold.

Two years later Greece would have a chance to knock the USA out of medals.

Revenge was clearly on our minds. Everyone anticipated a fast , quick game with lots of opportunities on both sides and clearly no one was dissapointed.

Team Greece scored first when captain Josh Barbas picked up a loose ball infront of the USA keeper.

A few minutes later the USA tied it with a weak shot on net that caught everyone including goaltender John Vrettis by suprise. The shot snuck in on the short side of the net. A few minutes later a shot from the point put the USA up 2-1 after the first period.

The coaches decided to make a goalie change and put rookie goaltender Alex Bitskakis in the net to start the 2nd period. (alex had played vs Finland and Haiti as well ) The change aseemed to have sparked the team.

Team Greece stayed composed and came out strong in the 2nd period. Kevin Kuzmarski looked great all night and fed a beatifull pass to Nicholas Pitsikoulis who was running in the slot and put it past the USA goalie tying it at 2-2.

Later in the period the USA had a face-off deep in the Greek zone and a quick pass to the point for a nice shot beat the keeper as the USA took a 3-2 lead into the 3rd period.

The game went back and forth until a rush by rookie defenceman Michael Pinios saw his wrist shot just inside of the blue beat the goalie and tie it at 3-3.

With chances and opportunities being exchanged on both sides, surely the next goal would be the winner. With less than 20 seconds to play Mike Pinios was given a perfect pass from Chris Vagenas to find him alone in the slot but the USA goalie made the save and we were off to overtime.

After almost 7 minutes played and after a great save on one end by Greek goalie Alex Bitsakis in the slot , Robert Barbas who hadn`t played much, jumped on fresh and fast and looked to be breaking out alone for a shot but he USA defenceman caught him. However Kevin Kuzmarski picked up the ball and went in to beat the USA keeper on a short sided backhand and give his team the victory !

This was the biggest victory in Greek Ball Hockey, knocking out the 2015 Silver medalists and sending Greece to the semi finals , where they are guaranteed no worse than a 4th place finish for the 2nd World Championships in a row.

To be able to compete and beat teams like the USA which have thousands of players at their disposal compared to the 40-50 that we have who can compete at a world stage like this is a huge accomplishment and a real testament to our program.

Next game semi-finals vs 5 x champions Canada

From host site: www.pardubice2017.com

The first quarter-final game offered a dramatic climax. No team managed to build up a multiple goal lead throughout the game until it went into overtime tied at three goals each. Kevin Kuzmarski scored the winner on a 2-on-1 rush to eliminate the winner of Group A2 and move on to the semi-finals.

Greece was considered an underdog coming into the game, but they managed to take the early lead. After killing a penalty, Joshua Barbas scored on a Greek power play on a rebound. However, two goals from the USA turned the score around before the first intermission. Jordan Senecal and Christopher Liebers both found gaps next to Ioannis Vrettis’s right post.

Nicholas Pitsikoulis tied it at two as he buried a perfect pass from behind the goal by Kuzmarski, but the Americans took the lead back before the end of the second period. Matt Kissel received a perfect pass right from the face off circle and one-timed it past Vrettis.

The USA could have double its lead early in the third period when Vrettis left the crease to help his teammates. He made a bad pass and as he rushed back, he was fortunate to be able to stop Joshua Merchant’s shot. And then the Greeks made it even again. Michael Pinios’s shot from blue line bounced in through the five hole in a weak moment for Jonathan Rethage’s.

Despite more action in the remaining minutes, it ended 3-3 after regulation time and Tipsport arena saw its first overtime.

Kuzmarski won it for Greeks, taking a pass from Barbas on a 2-on-1 and beating Rethage with a backhand deke. The play was reviewed but with no reason to overturn the decision, the goal was good.

Reactions

Cory Herschk (head coach, Team USA): Anytime you go to overtime it’s anybody’s game. Greece earned their chances and they capitalized off them. We did not. Good luck to them for the rest of tournament, they have a good team with a good leader. We didn’t take care of the hockey ball enough, especially through the neutral zone. There were a couple of bounces in our zone that didn’t work in our favour. Besides that, the Greeks worked hard. I think both teams worked hard, actually.

John Kontitsis (manager, Team Greece): It feels amazing right now. Two years ago we were kind of a cinderella story. Two years ago we came into the tournament and ended up losing to the U.S. in the semi-finals. We knew it was going to be a tough game; they are a world-class team, an amazing organization. We just knew we had to come up here and play a picture-perfect game. It kind of went to their way but we didn’t stop believing in ourselves. We kept confident, we told the boys that anything can happen. We are really proud. Today we showed that we can compete against the best in the world.

 

Wednesday
Jun072017

Game # 5 Qualifier: Greece vs Haiti

Game #5 vs Team Haiti

 

Team Greece had to play Team Haiti despite some controversy on the B3 pool standings.  Winner advances to the Quarter finals.
Our game plan going into this one was to stay disciplined, move the ball and use our overall quickness to our advantage.  Team Haiti can be a tough opponent for any team in the 'A' pool. 
The game started with both teams looking to catch a quick break.  Team Haiti had a few glorious chances in front of our net but netminder Alex Bitsakis stood tall with a few nice saves and a little help from his crossbar.
Haiti drew first blood with a rebound goal while on a 5 on 3 power play.
During the penalty kill Mario Argiris responded with a short-handed marker to tie the game at 1-1 and just a few minutes later on the same short-handed situation, Michael Pinios scored in a shot from his own zone.
The video review system was used for the first time at the Ball hockey Worlds to confirm the second Greek goal.
The Greeks really picked up their game in the second period and peppered the Haitian goaltender but couldnt get one by him, until Captain Josh Barbas sealed Team Haiti's fate with a quick outside spin to get away from his defender and score top corner for the 3rd goal of the game.
Team Greece used some words from a haitian player as added ammunition when he had posted a remark on his facebook page before the game that "We will shock the world" . I guess as the say when you play with the bull you get the horns !
Next up -  Quarter finals vs USA 
The USA was the runner up at the last worlds and actually knocked out Greece in 2015 Worlds.
They were the top ranked team in the other A pool.
From Website: www.pardubice2017.com
Greece and Haiti were fighting for one of the last two places in the quarter-finals. It seemed that the first period would be goalless, but in the final two minutes, three goals were scored, two by Greece. In the 15th minute, the video review system was used for the first time at the Ball hockey Worlds to confirm the second Greek goal - shorthanded by Michael Pineos on a shot from his own zone. As there were no goals in the second period, the Haitians had to equalize in the third to get the game to a shootout. However, Greece showed good defensive play in final period and even managed to scored once. The final score was 3-1 for Greece.

Reactions

Mario Argiris (forward of Greece): It was a good and hard game, both teams played well. We always want go to the game and score and we have to continue in quarterfinal.

Robert Haddock (coach of Haiti): Well, unfortunately we lost, but guys gave me all they had. We had a few bad bounces in the first period and we did not fully recovered. But I love my players, because they have never quit on. Every guy I turn to, gave me one hundred percent. We are not in top eight, but we are knocking on the door. We will be ready for the next tournament