On Tuesday, the semi-finals for both the lower and upper brackets of the World Cup of University Hockey were held at Felcsík Ice Rink. Each of the four matches delivered quality gameplay. Some of the games were won by the team predicted to win, while others had some slight surprises in store. Admittedly, the results were not shocking but rather an indication of the balanced competition in Cârța, where any team can emerge victorious.
After a break on Monday, the ice hockey delegations in Romania had a busy schedule on Tuesday, with four more matches to be played at the World Cup of University Hockey. As we already saw on Sunday, the rising stakes had a positive effect on the teams’ performance, boosting their energy and encouraging them to play at a higher level. So we had every reason to hope for a similar continuation.
The two morning games determined the teams that would compete for fifth and seventh place on the last day. In the first match, Hungary, who have been improving steadily throughout the group stage, faced off against Poland, who finished bottom of their group despite a win over Romania. The match was not consistently one-sided, with the Polish team posing a threat at times, but in general, it was an evenly-matched competition. Neither side could build a serious lead and the game went into the break tied at 2-2. The Poles managed to score with around 70 seconds remaining to secure the win.
The next match also decided who they would fight for 5th place. Sweden clashed with the Czech Republic, and in a thrilling and closely contested match, the Nordic team overcame a two-goal deficit to secure a somewhat surprising victory.
The most highly anticipated games of the day came next. For the home crowd, the USA-Romania match was the obvious highlight. This was also reflected in the number of fans in attendance, as the grandstand was packed with passionate supporters for the 16:30 drop of the puck. Right from the beginning, the North American team took control, launching a number of threatening attacks before finally scoring. Their dominance was less evident in the number of goals. They managed to build a two-goal lead, but the hosts were able to score as well, resulting in a final score of 3-2. The United States of America were the first team to reach the final of the 2023 World Cup of University Hockey.
Slovakia and Canada were pitted against each other for the remaining spot in the final. The Slovaks held their own against the United States in the last round of the group stage, so it was reasonable to expect them to give Canada a run for their money. For a while it looked as if that would not be the case, as the Canadians took control and prevented the Slovak team from gaining much traction. They led 3-0 when Slovakia managed to score their first goal. Although another goal was quickly scored by Slovakia, the outcome of the game remained unchanged, and the North American team managed to extend their lead and move on to the final.
The final, which is scheduled to begin at 20:00 on Wednesday, will feature a matchup between the United States and Canada. Beforehand, Romania and Slovakia will go head-to-head for the bronze medal at 16:30.
Matches of the fifth day of play:
9:30 for seventh place: Hungary vs Czech Republic
13:00 for fifth place: Poland vs Sweden
16:30 Bronze medal match: Slovakia vs Romania
20:00 Final: United States of America vs Canada
Results of the fourth match day:
Hungary – Poland 2-3
Scorers: Trozsák, Antal, Yerassov and Sienkiewicz.
Sweden – Czech Republic 5-4
Scorers: Sillerström, Nyberg, Ljumblom, Wedjesjö, Klippfors, and Zidek (2), Pavlas, Husarik.
United States of America – Romania 3-2
Scorers: Bohn, Kalandyk, West, and Olivér Gecse, Koppány Márton.
Slovakia – Canada 2-6
Scorers: Smolka, Novodomec, és DiGiulio, Carter, Siebenga, Sheldon, Thompson, Fortin.