IIHF World Championships Div 1B Belfast April 2017
Eight different scorers smash the Dutch
Lithuania recorded its second victory of the tournament in emphatic style, firing eight unanswered goals past a Netherlands team that is still yet to win.
Lithuania dominated the Dutch all over the ice to record its second shut-out win of the championship. Eight different goalscorers powered the Baltic nation to an emphatic success that sees it join Japan on two victories from two games.
Despite the one-sided nature of much of what followed, the first big chance fell to the Netherlands. The game was less than two minutes old when Steve Mason fired in a slapshot that pinged off the inside of the post and bounced to safety. Unluckily for the Dutch, that was as good as it got.
It didn’t take long for Lithuania to open the scoring. As early as the fourth minute, Domantas Cypas unleashed a shot from the point that came through traffic to beat Sjoerd Idzenga. Goal number two was another long-range effort, with Pijus Rulevicius’ shot emerging from behind a Dutch D-man to give him his second goal in successive games.
At the first intermission the score was just 2-0, and the Dutch could point to a few opportunities to get back into the game. Indeed, only a smart blocker save from Artur Pavliukov denied Joey Oosterveld a goal early in the middle session that could have changed the path of the game. Instead, though, Lithuania hit a rich vein of scoring form after the 30-minute mark, blasting home four unanswered goals to condemn the Netherlands to a second heavy defeat.
Lithuania's head coach Bernd Haake was understandably delighted with the result and performance, but warned that there was even more required from his team ahead of the upcoming meetings with Britain, Croatia and Japan.
"We are working every practice on our discipline," he said. "Discipline means good positioning in our zone, quick passing out of defence and lots of shots on the goalie.
"Now we are coming to play the three big teams in the group, and there are still areas where we need to be better."
Darius Pliskauskis’ pace down the right opened up the defence for Ugnius Cizas to claim his second goal of the championship before three goals in 80 seconds turned the scoreline into a rout. The fourth Lithuanian goal saw Emilijus Krakauskas get his first for his country, while Mark Kaleinikovas and Ilja Cetvertak picked up their first international assists. Edgar Rybakov was the next to find the net with a close-range finish that ended Idzenga’s unhappy evening. Then Pliskauskis welcomed Fabian Schotel to the game when he finished off a delicious diagonal from Cizas.
"You could see after that, they didn't really want to play anymore," Pliskauskas said. "When a team gives up six or seven goals, it doesn't matter who you are, you just want to get off the ice and get to the end of the game."
Dutch head coach Chris Eimers agreed that the goal flurry was the decisive moment in the game. "It's not like the players are not working hard," he said. "But there are a couple of things that are really important. Our energy level has to be up, our execution has to be up and our excitement has to be up. Mainly, I believe, wanting to be here and to compete - and that's something different than working hard - I think that needs to be a little better."
Despite the goal glut, Lithuania has yet to score on the power play in this championship and even an extended 5-on-3 advantage early in the third did not change that stat. Coach Haake admitted that there would be changes on the PP in future games. But there were further equal strength goals from Aivaras Bendzius and Paulius Gintautas to complete a comprehensive win. The Lithuanians were even able to give second-choice goalie Simas Baltrunas his first taste of World Championship action in the final minutes. Schotel gave the Dutch something to smile about with a penalty shot save to deny Bendzius in the 59th minute, but this was a game that belonged to Lithuania.