Heartbreak for Bermuda
Bermuda's bid for the Masters World Ball Hockey Championships title ended after losing 3-2 to Slovakia in a shoot-out at the Pembroke Community Centre last night.
Forward Peter Figura put Slovakia ahead 2-1 in sudden death before goaltender Peter Jurošek saved Bermuda forward Cory Caouette's attempt to clinch his team's victory and dash the home side's hopes of progressing to the quarter finals.
“A shoot-out loss is a tough way to get knocked out of a tournament, but that's part of the game,” Chris Coleman, the Bermuda captain, told The Royal Gazette.
Bermuda had to beat Slovakia in their final group game at all costs in order to progress to the quarter finals after losing 5-0 against Canada earlier in the day.
“We came in and knew we had to get a shoot-out win or better and unfortunately just came up short,” Coleman said.
“We came into this tournament not knowing what to expect and these are the best ball hockey players in the world.
“This is an extremely competitive tournament and I put my hat out to the guys who competed hard. It's amazing that we did as well as we did.”
Bermuda put in another solid shift on the rink but ultimately paid the price for squandering gilt edge chances, particularly in the third period when forward Ronnie Dzurus missed an open net and Caouette failed to capitalise on a one-on-one with goaltender Jurosek.
“We had a lot of chances and there were a lot of loose balls around the net and unfortunately they just didn't go in for us tonight,” Coleman said.
Bermuda were forced to chase the game after Slovakia forward Jan Krizan opened the scoring with a neat finish from a counterattack down the right side.
Tempers then flared with Bermuda forward Jean Michael Tremblay and Slovakia's Kamil Podhorsky both being sent to the sin-bin after getting tangled up.
Bermuda were kept on the back foot for most of the first period with their only real chance falling to Caouette, who flashed his shot wide from an angle.
The home side finally sprang to life in the second period which they dominated and were eventually rewarded.
Bermuda defender Shannon Goose and forward Jeff Ingelman both had shots blocked before the former finally made the breakthrough with a crisp shot to bring the teams level.
Slovakia were penalised for having six players on the rink but were let off the hook as Bermuda were unable to make the power play count.
Bermuda came charging out of the blocks at the start of the third period and went agonisingly close when forward Chris Merritt's shot struck the near post.
Dzurus then missed a sitter when he dragged wide of an empty goal after Jurosek spilt a rebound into his path.
Bermuda were made to rue these missed opportunities as Slovakia regained the lead against the run of play through a goal from forward Branislav Thron.
The hosts still had the momentum, though, and should have been back on even terms when Caouette broke free but was unable to convert.
The goal that Bermuda's unrelenting pressure warranted finally arrived with just 29 seconds remaining in regulation, Merritt sweeping in during a goalmouth scramble to send the game to a shoot-out where Slovakia ultimately prevailed.
Bermuda play Austria today in the consolation semi-finals.