Anthony Kimlin posted a shutout as Australia dominated Spain 4-0 in Belgrade overnight, in game three of their 2019 IIHF World Championships campaign.
Australia were coming off the back of a win over the host nation Serbia, and looking to eclipse Spain for the first time since 2017.
The newly-promoted Spain were under attack from the get go and ill-discipline cost them.
Weheb Darge drew first blood for the Aussies 7 minutes in on a 5-on-3 advantage. Jamie Woodman let a wrist shot rip from the point and the rebound kicked out to Rob Malloy and then eventually Darge, who stuffed it home past Ander Alcaine to put Australia up 1:0.
Spain took 4 penalties alone in the first period and were lucky not to be punished even further by Australia, who piled on 12 shots to 5 in the opening 20 minutes. However, it would remain 1-0 at the first intermission.
Australia started off short-handed in the second thanks to a Too Many Men penalty, however the 5-on-4 mattered not.
Jason Baclig chased down a Rob Haselhurst clearing attempt in the offensive zone. Ander Alcaine made an absolute meal of his stickhandling attempt behind the goal line, leading Baclig to steal the puck and put it into the empty net to make it 2:0 Australia with 14:36 to play in the second period. It was Baclig’s first goal as a Mighty Roo in his third game in the green and gold.
Spain had a couple of great chances to claw one back but despite having three power plays, could not find any gaps past Anthony Kimlin.
Australia would inflict more pain on the Spaniards just before the end of the second when the Newcastle North Stars’ Mathew Lindsay let a laser go from the point, after a nice dish from Kieren Webster, to make it 3:0 heading into the intermission.
Australia were outshot 17-4 for the period but were up where it mattered.
Spain unleashed a barrage of shots on Kimlin yet again in the final frame, outshooting Australia 15-5 and almost wearing down Australia’s dogged defensive corps. Spain had all the momentum and were on the verge of breaking the deadlock.
That was until Spain’s Oriol Boronat was given two minutes for a late hit and in turn, gave Australia another power play. Australia made no mistake this time when Vadim Virjassov took a beauty backhand pass from Webster and undressed Alcaine, sealing the deal 4:0 for Australia with 4:10 to play in regulation. It was Virjassov’s second goal and 4th tournament point in his first outing as a Mighty Roo.
Australia leapfrog Spain in the standings and now sit first overall, with 7 tournament points from three games.
Kimlin was perfect, stopping all 26 shots faced in the win. Alcaine saved 33 from 37 in the loss for Spain.
Australia will now face the winless China in their fourth game of the tournament on Saturday night at 9pm AEST. Should Australia win that game then they will likely face Croatia on Monday night for a chance at promotion into Division 1B.
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