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Reported by: George Pickard, CIRILH President
The same protagonists faced off for Gold Medals in Detroit, Mich., at the XII FIRS World Inline Roller Hockey Championship as did so last year in Paris, France. This year the USA women prevailed over the Canadian champions, in the usual closely-matched game. The USA Men successfully defended their World Championship title for the fourth consecutive time. The Taylor Sportsplex was the venue for this year’s competitions, located in the suburbs near Detroit Metropolitan Airport, along the route to Chicago. This facility was truly outstanding, and consisted of four full-sized roller hockey rinks under a single roof, radiating out from a central service area which included a restaurant, pro-shop and medical center. In the autumn and winter, the two rinks in use for the World Championships will revert again to ice hockey. Without any doubt, the Taylor Sportsplex was itself world-class.
Prior to the start of practice for the World Championships on July 15, 2006, the main rink was dedicated to the finals of the Pro-Circuit TORHS National Championships, an event in which $60,000 was awarded to the two finalist teams in the senior division. The two other rinks were in use during and after the World Championships, in support of the AAU and USARS National Inline Hockey Championships, as well as several World Cup competitions sanctioned by CIRILH for age division inline hockey. The facility was a beehive of activity during the time of the World Championships, with more than 500 teams participating. The AAU sponsored the FIRS World Championships and did not charge admission to the games. As a result, the final competitions World Championship medals for both men and women were attended by standing-room-only spectators.
Women’s World Championship
The defending champion Canadian women again faced their traditional inline hockey rivals, Team USA, to decide possession of the Gold and Silver Medals for this year. The powerful Canadian team included Olympic Ice Hockey Gold Medal winners Isabelle Chartrand, Cherie Piper and Meghan Agosta, as well as several others who play professional women’s ice hockey during the winter months. Also returning was Canada’s premier goalie, Keely Brown, who had tended the nets for the team for two of their previous Inline Hockey World Championships, never giving up a single goal.
Neither team had scored at the halfway mark of the first period, with the Canadians forcing the puck mostly into the USA zone. The USA women fought back with spirit, including a tremendous performance by USA goalie Brittany Martin. Kathleen Savino broke the ice for the USA by scoring the first goal of the game, assisted by Antoinette Maldonado. In addition to making the score 1 - 0, Savino put an end to Keely Brown’s longstanding world championship goal streak. Such audacity by Savino apparently aroused the Canadians, for in less than a minute, during the next shift, Canada shot in an answering goal by Coley Dosser which was assisted by Meghan Agosta. The half ended with the score tied at 1 -1.
When asked what his 2006 game strategy would be in facing such a formidable rival as Canada, which was strongly reinforced with Olympic ice hockey heroines, USA Women Coach Jeff Prime said that he told his team to stay relaxed and go out and enjoy their game against a great team that no one was expecting them to beat. He told his players that there was no reason to tense up over fear of failure of living up to expectations, and that they should stay loose and each person play their own game. Jeff denied making any impassioned locker room speech in the grand tradition of American football. From the outcome, perhaps Jeff Prime unknowingly did so anyway.
The second half struggle began much the same as the first, when on a power play Lauren McAuliffe, assisted by Joy Garvey, put a second USA puck past the Canadian goalie to give the USA a 2 - 1 lead with 6:32 remaining in the game. From that point on the Canadians worked to even the score, but to no avail. Brittany Martin repulsed all further attempts to penetrate the USA goal, and despite the Canadians pulling their goalie in the last minute of play to favor loading the offense, she held on and the game concluded with a 2 - 1 USA victory over Canada. When the buzzer sounded, a melee was provoked by a disappointed Canadian team. It appears this is a local ritual upon losing a game. A player from USA and a player from Canada were identified by the referees as having refused to stop punching when directed to do so, and were given a Match Penalty and a year suspension in accordance with the earlier disseminated rules enacted as a result of another USA/Canada fight which occurred during the Canadian men’s loss at the 2005 World Games in Germany. The CIRILH Committee sustained the penalty, determined to rid itself of this type of hooliganism within FIRS inline hockey.
In a better display of sportsmanship, the French Mademoiselles engaged the women from the Czech Republic in a spirited contest for the Bronze Medal at the 2006 World Championships. There was a certain proprietary claim to this award for both teams, which the French had won the previous year in Paris over the Czechs, who had won the Bronze Medal in the preceding two years in the Czech Republic and again in Canada. The contest was most competitive, characterized by excellent skating skills and good stick control from both teams. It concluded with a repeat victory for France 6 - 3, successfully defending their claim for the Bronze Medal.
2006 WOMEN’S FIRS WORLD INLINE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP PLACEMENT BY TEAM:
1. Gold Medal – United States of America
2. Silver Medal – Canada
3. Bronze Medal – France
4. Czech Republic
5. Great Britain
THE WOMEN’S FIRS NATIONAL TEAM WORLD INLINE HOCKEY CUP
There are now 34 national federations in FIRS that conduct inline hockey national championships, utilizing playing rules much the same as advocated for the world championship. Yet 16 is the greatest number of countries that have ever taken part in a single FIRS world inline championship. Over the 12-year history of the FIRS world inline hockey championship, 28 different nations have participated. Some try it and find they cannot compete against the best teams. A new format for seeding teams was tried this year, offering developing teams a greater incentive to return. The highest skilled teams have now been separated in the round-robin from the less proficient teams, still allowing every entering team a direct path toward earning a world championship gold medal whether they are positioned in Group One or Group Two based upon their placements in the previous World Championship. The top eight teams have demonstrated their ability to compete successfully for the Gold Medal. These teams are placed in Group One with six teams qualifying after the round-robin to continue toward gold medal play. The top finishing team in Pool C and Pool D of Group Two exchange places with the lowest placements in Pool A and B of Group One, thus providing every team that enters the World Championship access to the gold medal based upon performance. After pool play, the contest is basically split into two separate events: 1) The FIRS World Inline Hockey Championship and 2) FIRS National Team World Cup for Inline Hockey. The medals awarded are different and the word “champion” is not associated with the Cup. While this new formula is designed for the more numerous men’s teams, the same principal is applied to women’s teams to encourage more participants as well.
In 2006 World Championships, because fewer than the anticipated number of team participated, the three losing women’s teams after the quarterfinal competition went on to play for the National Teams World Cup, which became a round-robin with no ties permitted. Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were awarded for the World Cup and these three teams are also recorded as placing fifth, sixth and seventh in the 2006 FIRS Women’s World Inline Hockey Championships:
2006 WOMEN’S FIRS NATIONAL INLINE HOCKEY TEAM WORLD CUP AWARDS:
1. Gold Medal – Great Britain
2. Silver Medal – Japan
3. Bronze Medal – Mexico
2006 MEN’S WORLD INLINE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIPS July 17 – 19, 2006
The roster of men’s teams that registered for the 2006 Men’s World Championship consisted of 13 national teams from the following FIRS Federations: Group I – USA, Czech Republic, France, Switzerland, Spain, Canada and Germany. Group II – Britain, Korea, Mexico, Japan, Colombia and Romania. Two pools for round-robin were formed from each group. After pool play, from Group I: USA, Switzerland, Spain, Czech Republic, Canada and France remained in the World Championship medal round for the quarterfinals, with Germany entering Group II and Japan and Mexico joining Group I for an eight team quarterfinal.
Men’s World Championship Quarterfinals – Thursday, July 20, 2006
Canada overwhelmed Spain by a score of 14 - 0. Switzerland faced France, with Switzerland coasting to a 5 - 1 victory. The Czechs won their game against Japan by a margin of 12 - 3. USA played Mexico and the final score in this game was 15 - 3 in favor of USA. There were no real challenges at this phase of the competition, with Canada, Czech Republic, Switzerland and USA advancing to the semifinal. Spain, France, Japan and Mexico would then engage in placement games to establish team positions five through eight in the World Championships.
Men’s Semifinal Competition – Friday, July 21, 2006
Canada vs. USA - The first of the two contests was between Canada and USA. The Yanks jumped out to a 3 – 0 lead during the first 10 minutes of the first period with two goals by C. J. Yoder, assisted by Mike Ciolli and Ziggy Marszalek and then a goal scored by Marszalek, assisted by Ciolli, all of whom are long-term veterans of Team USA. Dave Hammond popped a goal for Canada, assisted by Paul Szczechura, bringing the tally to 3 - 1 with 10:03 remaining in the first period. Yoder, assisted by Brian Yingling, advanced the USA lead to 4 - 1 while completing the hat- trick 30 seconds later. Soon after, Mishka Drury added a goal to the Canadian side of the ledger and in the closing seconds of the first period Hammond scored again to make the halftime score 4 – 3 in favor of the USA.
The second period was underway less than a minute when USA veteran Eric Weichselbaumer scored an unassisted goal to give the USA a 5 – 3 lead. Canadian Chad Seibel narrowed the USA lead to 5 – 4 with 18:30 on the clock on a goal assisted by Paul Szczechura. That was all the scoring in the second half until with 6:41 left when C. J. Yoder scored his 4th goal of the game, assisted by Dan Costanza. The USA played out the clock and the game ended with a USA victory 6 - 4. Canada’s Brett Leggat and Rob Laurie from the USA were both excellent in goal, withstanding many challenges that lesser goalies would have been unable to stop.
Switzerland vs. Czech Republic – Two minutes into the game the Swiss jumped out to the lead with an unassisted goal by Remo Hirt. Czech David Balasz tied it up with 5:15 remaining in the first period on a goal assisted by Jiri Osina. With seconds remaining in the first period the Swiss took a 2 – 1 lead on a goal by Diego Schwarzenbach assisted by Rolf Schrepfer. The first three goals of the second period were scored by the Czechs, two by Martin Vozdecky and one from Martin Tvrznik, with assists from Tvrznik, Balasz and Ondrej Vesely. With seven minutes remaining in the game the Czechs had a 4 -2 lead. Pascal Stoller scored for Switzerland with less than five minutes remaining on the clock, but then the Swiss were shut down and the game ended in favor of the Czechs 4 - 3. For the second consecutive year, USA and the Czech Republic would play for the Gold and Silver World Championship Medals. With their losses in the semifinals, Canada and Switzerland would duel to determine the Bronze medal winner.
Men’s Bronze Medal Game for World Championship – Saturday, July 22, 2006
Canada vs. Switzerland – The Swiss jumped off to an early lead with a goal by Roland Stahli 6:18 into the first period, assisted by Remo Hirt. Canada answered with three goals in the first period, including an unassisted goal from Shawn Mather, one from Derek Hahn assisted by Kirk French and then another from Mather, this time assisted by Mishka Drury, earning Team Canada a 3 -1 halftime lead. The Canadians expanded their lead to 5 - 1 early in the second period with two goals, scored one minute aparty by Rafie Protopapas and Dave Hammond, both assisted by Paul Szczechura. A desperate Swiss team fought back with a goal from Pascal Stoller assisted by Walter Gerber. Hammond answered for Team Canada this with his second goal of the contest, assisted by Chad Seibel, making the score 6 – 2 in favor of Canada. The Swiss made a comeback, getting a goal from Stefam Grogg assisted by Rolf Schrepferand and one from Patrick Rothen assisted by Stoller. The Swiss could do no more, and earned a series of penalties in the final minute of the game as result of their demonstrations of frustration. With the 6 - 4 win Team Canada earned the 2006 World Championship Bronze Medal.
Men’s Gold and Silver Medal Game – Saturday, July 22, 2006
USA vs. Czech Republic – This was the second consecutive year that these two teams faced each other for the World Championship Gold Medal. Both teams are familiar with the pressures of a World Championship match and played with enthusiasm and great skill. The USA dominated the first period with three goals, while stellar world champion goalie Rob Laurie denied the Czechs access to the USA goal cage. Ziggy Marszalek scored first for the USA, assisted by Mike Ciolli. USA rookie Itan Chavira tallied the next goal, assisted by his brother Juaquin Chavira. The third goal was scored by C. J. Yoder and was assisted by Marszalek. The USA took a 3 - 0 lead into the dressing room.
There was no scoring during the first half of the second period, with both goalies stoutly defending their cages. Pavel Zavrtalek broke the ice for the Czechs 11 minutes into the second period on a goal assisted by Ondrej Vesely, making the Czech deficit just two, 3 - 1. Then the old master C. J. Yoder within seconds answered the Czech goal with his second of the game, assisted this time by his brother Jami Yoder. It might be said that nepotism reigns on the American team. The Czech Republic scored in the final two minutes of the game with a second goal by Zavrtalek assisted by Vesely. The game ended as a USA victory, 4 – 2 over the Czechs. The USA retains its World Championship and earns another Gold Medal. The Czech Republic wins the Silver Medal.
2006 MEN’S FIRS WORLD INLINE HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP
PLACEMENT BY TEAM:
1. Gold Medal –United States of America
2. Silver Medal – Czech Republic
3. Bronze Medal – Canada
11. Great Britain
MEN’S FIRST FIRS NATIONAL TEAM WORLD INLINE HOCKEY CUP
The teams remaining in Group II, after advancement of Pool C & D winners to the World Championship medal play, were joined by Team Germany which had been dropped from Group I. Due to its top seed, Germany was given a bye and the other four teams were matched in the quarterfinal according to their pool placements. The two winning teams from the quarterfinals were then joined by Germany to play round-robin matches (no ties – two games each team) for the Gold, Silver and Bronze Medals in the National Team World Cup. Those medal-winning teams would be listed as placements nine, 10 and 11 in the 2006 World Championship in addition to being medalists of the National Team World Cup. The Colombia and Great Britain men emerged as quarterfinal winners and joined with Germany for this new international competition in what proved to be well-matched contests.
The round-robin for the Team Cup led off with Great Britain defeating Germany 5 -3. Later that evening Germany defeated Colombia 4 -2. In the third and final game, played the next day at noon, Great Britain took on Colombia. The Colombians adjusted their sights and fired off a victory salvo 6 - 2. Each team won and lost one game in the competition, earning them a three-way tie in points. The accountants rolled out their tie- breaker rules. Head-to-head did not apply as a tie-breaker in this situation so they proceeded to next tie-breaker, least goals scored against. With just six goals scored against in the round-robin, Colombia earned the Gold Medal, while Germany was awarded the Silver Medal with seven goals scored against and Great Britain the Bronze, having allowed nine goals in the round-robin.
2006 MEN’S FIRS NATIONAL INLINE HOCKEY
TEAM WORLD CUP AWARDS:
1. Gold Medal – Colombia
2. Silver Medal – Germany
3. Bronze Medal – Great Britain