Lithuania stuns Ukraine
Lithuania stuns Ukraine
Historical win opens up medal race
A gallant third period fightback from Lithuania seals a historical win against Ukraine as the hunt for the promotion becomes a three-horse race.
Ugnius Cizas and Donatas Kumeliauskas scored for Ukraine, while at the back, teenager Artur Pavliukov recorded yet another inspiring display in net recording 31 saves.
"I think today we outworked Ukraine, had good shots on net and it was also a mental win. We wanted to win and it was a historical win, for the first time ever at a World Championship, Lithuania beat Ukraine," said a delighted Lithuania head coach Bernd Haake.
The epic victory means that Lithuania now leapfrogs Ukraine into second in the table ahead of the last round of games.
Ukraine can look back at a disappoining afternoon. Despite outshooting Lithuania 32-27 they only managed a paltry goal.
"We expect our players to play with a big heart, but I though they were too relaxed which contributed to the result today," said a dejected Olexander Savitsky. "Also credit to our opponents who played very well, good in defence and fought for all pucks in all moments, but we know we need to play better"
Lithuania who entered the game on the back of a 0-8 thumping by Great Britain, now followed their game plan to the letter during a see-saw battle of a first period which ended scoreless.
But the Lithuanian resistance crumbled at 36:07 into the middle frame when Georgi Kicha won the battle with Rolandas Aliukonis behind the net to find Yuri Petrangovsky whose first effort was saved by Pavliukov before reacting ahead of Lithuania's defenceman Arturas Katulis to open Ukraine's scoring with a rebound.
Rolling along on four lines, Ukraine won the shots 10-5 in the final frame, but failed to break Lithuania's resolve who instead fought back to draw level at 42:22. Katulis found Povilas Verenis advancing to the left point and backhanded it to Cizas whose top corner finish behind Ukraine's Eduard Zakharchenko meant 1-1.
With the momentum now being with Lithuania, they withstood Ukrainian pressure and hit on the break with ten minutes left of the game. In a surging move, Arnoldas Bosas barged down the right to find Daniel Bogdziul in full pace who picked out Kumeliauskas on the left and his wrister flew past Zakharchenko for the game winning goal.
"Our first aim before this tournament was not go down with this young team. We had two wins, so that was our first goal. Then everybody thought following 0-8 that Lithuania is not very good, but we came back and believed in ourselves and if we win a medal, it would be a great success," said Lithuania head coach Haake.
Lithuania with two bronze medals on the trot at this level, now go in to their final game against Croatia with a chance of winning gold if results go their way.
"We are not thinking so far, everything is possible, but we can also be fourth," said Haake.
"All four teams have a chance to win a medal, so we have to wait for the outcome of Great Britain versus Ukraine. If Great Britain wins we automatically have a bronze medal. But we are not counting on this, so we are preparing ourselves for the next game that is Croatia tomorrow."
For Ukraine, they now need to go full tilt in their final game against Great Britain tomorrow, while also keeping fingers crossed Croatia can get something out of their game with Lithuania to keep their hopes of promotion alive.
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