First day of EuroHockey Indoor Championship II and what a day it was! Late minute goals, tight games, packed stands, it had it all!
For the first match, we had Wales taking on a tournament favorite, Poland. Poland pressed up high from the get go and they didn’t let up, but Wales proved to be a worthy opponent as they conceded only one goal in the first quarter, but Poland kept pushing on which ultimatley resulted in three goals in the second quarter. Second half brought us more of the same, Poland pressing high and Wales putting up a fight, while looking to capitalize on a counter attack. Just the second match of the tournament and it is already a contender for “best match of the tournament”. Turkey against Lithuania was a real fireworks of a match. Turkey started the match really well, but Lithuania matched everything and then added a bit more to the pile! The last quarter was a real test for both sides, as they approached it similary. Trying to build an attack and just wait for a mistake form the other side. With a minute left on the clock Lithuania took it all with a late goal.
Our host Croatia played the third match against Scotland. The stands were packed with home fans and quite a few Scottish fans also. Both side were pretty equally matched and we ended up with a minimal lead for Scotland on the half time break. Then it seemed like Scotland was getting the game in their control, but Croatia had other ideas! Two goals late in the third quarter meant we were level heading into the last quarter. Both sides were playing well, but it was Scotland that took it all with two goals in fourth.
Russias first match of the tournament showed why they are a favourite to take it all. Wales played well, but playing well for one quarter is not nearly enough against this Russian team, after one goal in the first quarter, the rest had a lot more. In the end, a very convincing win for the Russian team.
Turkey was featured in the fifth match, along side Poland. And again, it was a beautie to watch. Turkey started well after going one down, but then we had a calm period, until the fourth quarter. Two goals for Turkey resulted in a “all-in” decsision for Poland. With six players in the field they tried their hardest to get something and they almost did, two goals with one in the last minute, put them so close to the finish, but not close enough.
Scotland against Lithuania, both teams with a win a piece was a sure giveaway that this will be an all out affair. Lithuania took the first lead, but Scotland got the game in their control really fast, and each time it seemed that Scotland would get a comfortable lead, Lithuania were right there to make sure they didn’t. After all is said and done, both teams put up a hell of a fight and the winner was decised by a tiny margin.
Last game matched the favorites Russia, against Croatia, the hosts. The match proved to be quite a boost for the home team as they didn’t sulk on their mistakes, but proudly put up a fight and showed they desearved their place.