On the last day of competition at EUR2 qualifications, Serbia and Italy play to decide the 3rd place, Slovakia and Estonia play to decide who is the group winner, and Netherlands and Slovenia play for their first win.
NETHERLANDS v SLOVENIA
It took until the last game of the tournament, but at last, Slovenia celebrate a win. Cheered on by a vocal local crowd, the biggest of the tournament, the Slovenians came from behind to beat Netherlands 3-8.
The game scoreboard was moving slowly but the pace on the court was fast. Both teams moved the ball from end to end trying desperately to get ahead. This was not a game of controlled floorball, but one where the ball, sticks and players were always moving. The crowd had to wait until 30 seconds before the end of the first period to see the first goal, but it was not at the end they would have liked. Instead, the lead went to Netherlands with a goal to Adrian Mom.
The lack of floorball experience showed for the Netherlands in the second period with two missed penalty shots and an error in their powerplay which allowed Anze Burnik to open the scoring for Slovenia. However, Jochem de Bruin´s goal earlier in the period meant that the Netherlands were still in the lead when the teams left the court for the second time.
The third period was all Slovenia. It was clear that they were not going to finish their home tournament without a win and they outscored their opposition 7-1 to completely turn the game around and crush any hope the Dutch had of winning. Ales Molk chose a good time to score his first two adult international goals, both assisted by Miran Likar, and Rok Korosec also picked up a double. Another to score his first adult international goal was Nejc Stanovnik and his was the last of the game that finished with a very happy Slovenian team and supporters.
Netherlands: Jeroen Bart
Slovenia: Ales Molk
SLOVAKIA V ESTONIA
In a game where both teams had already qualified for WFC 2012, one could´ve been mistaken in thinking that life and death depended on this result, especially for the Estonians. This was a tough game between two teams wanting to be able to finish this tournament saying that they were number one, and apart from a moment of madness in the second period, the Estonians controlled the match, winning 4-6.
Tomas Skarupa scored his first goal of the tournament and gave Slovakia the early lead with only one minute played, but then Estonia dominated the rest of the period. Playing in his first adult international tournment, Mario Paulus made two goals and the Talme brothers combined for a great pass combination goal at 12:47. The period ended with Estonia leading 1-4.
The second period didn´t go quite so easily for Estonia as Slovakia began to gain more possession and apply more pressure. Peter Heles scored for Slovakia, and Estonia scored another couple to make the score 2-6 at 34:33. After that something snapped in the Estonian players and the game went a little crazy. Penalty after penalty was given away by the Estonians and the match secretariat were left looking for extra chairs for the penalty bench. By the time the period ended, there were four Estonian players sitting on the penalty bench and the Estonian captain, Henrik Talme, was already back in the locker room for an early shower, having earned himself a match penalty for his continuous disputing of the referees decisions.
From all of these penalties, the Slovakians were only able to make one goal, Norbert Ondrasik scoring his first in this tournament. Once all the second period penalties were over the game resumed to its pre-madness tempo and the last score of the game went to Ladislav Gal at 58:25. So, in the end, Estonia finish first in the EUR2 group and the Slovakians second, and both teams will surely be pleased to qualify for the final round of WFC 2012, but many in the crowd will be left shaking their heads at such a strange game.
Slovakia: Marian Zemen
Estonia: Mario Paulus
SERBIA v ITALY
In the most important game of the final day in Slovenia, it was Serbia who had the best chances to score early on, but missed shots and good saves from Italian goalkeeper, Marco Mangai, meant they were kept scoreless. Marco´s brother, Amedeo Mangia scored the only goal of the first period giving Italy a 0-1 lead.
Serbia came out firing in the second period, with captain Toni Valle scoring two quick goals. The first, to equalise the score came after just 30 seconds had been played and the next came from a powerplay at 23:12. As the Italian´s heads dropped, the Serbian enthusiasm grew. Their third goal came from a well-executed ´look-away´ pass from Boban Stojanovic which went directly to Alexander Milovanovic who made a perfect slap shot to the goal.
The enthusiasm and passion of the Serbians has often been a little too strong and they have been the most penalised team at EUR2. They made another five visits to the penalty bench today and it was one of these penalties that allowed the Italians to get back to within one goal. However, the lead was back out to two when, at the very end of the period, a mistake by the Italian defenders left Benjamino Gusinac alone in front of their goal and he was able to skillfully put the ball past the goalkeeper, scoring his first international goal.
With their lead at 4-2, Serbia were not to be denied their last opportunity to qualify for the final round of WFC 2012. Goalkeeper Peter Novakovic stopped a penalty shot early in the third period, Milovanovic scored a second, and Alexander Zoric (10+4) made sure of his spot as the highest goal scorer of EUR2 with a final short-handed goal at 54:59.
The Serbians must now wait until tomorrow to see the final results from the other European groups. The ´Third Best Team´ will be determined by the following calculations: 1. Average number of points; 2. Average goal difference; 3. Average scored goals; 4. Lottery drawing.
Serbia: Alexander Milovanovic
Italy: Sandro Ludolini