CHELYABINSK, Russia, June 13. THE scene for the World League Super Final shifted to Chelyabinsk, Russia, where the eight men's teams–the host Russia, Brazil, China, Hungary, Japan, Montenegro, Serbia and the United States–will duel June 11-16 for the championship title. In yesterday's action (June 11), both Group A matches featured thrilling upsets, both decided by penalty shootouts, while the Group B contests went pretty much as one would suspect.
Japan 10 – Montenegro 10 (shootout: 6-5)
Montenegro teams had finished fourth at the 2012 Olympics and second at the European Championships. To the Japanese, defeating Montenegro was just a dream.
The dream came true. It took a penalty shootout to accomplish it, but Japan has a win in their column.
The Japanese scored three goals on their first three possessions, and wound up the first period with a 5-2 advantage. Montenegro woke up in the second and third quarters, tightening up their defense and scoring goals to give them a 5-5 tie at halftime and a 9-7 lead after the third period. The Japanese stormed back with three goals in the final quarter to tie the score 10-10, and had a possibility of winning it outright in the final 17 seconds, but missed the opportunity. In the second round of the shootout, Montenegro missed and the Japanese began celebrating the biggest victory of their history.
United States 9, Hungary 9 (shootout: 6-5)
The other Group A match also featured a shootout to determine the winner. The Hungarians led after the first eight minutes of play, 3-1, and was up 4-3 at the halftime. In just three-and-a-half minutes during the third period, Americans scored four straight goals to go up 8-4. Hungary roared back, pulled to within two by the end of the third and tied it up (7-7) at the beginning of the final period. Scoring went back-and-forth during the period. The USA defense held up during the final minutes of the game, and the game went to penalty shootout. Just as in the Japan-Montenegro game, each team put five goals in the net. Shea Buckner scored the sixth goal for America, Norbert Madaras missed his shot for Hungary and the Americans claimed victory.
Serbia 13, China 5
Serbia players scored three goals in their first three shots, and wound up the first period ahead, 5-1. Serbia added four more goals in the second period, with China managing one more, to bring the halftime score to 9-2, Serbia. It turned out to be a total team effort for the Serbians, as all but two of their field players put the ball in the net at least once, and their defense held up very well. The defense held China scoreless in the third quarter. The Chinese took advantage of a Serbian slowdown to outscore them, 3-1, but they were too far behind to come very close.
Russia 13, Brazil 7
Russia had it easy in their initial match with Brazil. They were, after all, the home team–while the Brazilians had to travel the farthest distance to appear in the Super Final. It showed in their play.
The Brazilians were able to tie it early in the game, 1-1, but Russia took advantage of their chances and a 6-0 scoring run to take the game out of reach at halftime (7-2). Brazil fought back to 8-4 toward the end of the third period, but three more straight goals by Russians really put the game out of reach at 11-4. Russia scored one final goal in the fourth period, then the Brazilians scored three consecutive goals to make the final score 12-7.