Slovakia got their promotion charge off to the perfect start on Thursday, with a convincing 5-0 victory against Italy in the IIHF Division 1A Under 18 World Championships. Dukla Trenčín prospect Marko Daňo was the star of the show, scoring a goal in each period to add to an assist, giving the promising forward a four point night. Slovakia dominated the Italians in every aspect of the game, restricting their opponents to a paltry 20 shots, whilst they captalised on the numerous powerplay chances Italy gave them, as three powerplay goals were scored by the Slovaks.
The first period was a closely contested one, as a well organised Italian backline proved difficult for the home side to penetrate. However, six minutes into the first period Slovakia opened the scoring, as a lovely piece of skill by Mário Lunter set up Daňo on the back post, who hammered the puck past a diving Martin Rabanser. Slovakia wouldn't have to wait long in the second period to double their lead, as only three and a half minutes into the period, Daňo scored his second powerplay goal of the night. Milan Kolena seemed to lose control possession of the puck, but Lunter managed to regain control, and set up Daňo, who scored his second goal of the night in a similar manner to his first.
Italy offered very little going forward, as they only mustered seven shots through two periods, but they started to come back at Slovakia in the third period, getting 13 shots on Patrik Romančík, who was equal to all of them. Romančík made one very good save, sticking out a sprawling pad to deny an Italian forward whilst Slovakia were killing a Martin Reway penalty. Speaking of Reway, he was kept off the scoresheet by the Italians tonight, but it wasn't for the lack of trying. He was clearly the most skilled player on the ice, but things didn't go his way tonight.
Slovakia scored two goals in 45 seconds at the start of the third period, as Dávid Šoltés scored on a breakaway after lovely set up play by Milan Kolena to make the score 3:0, and then Daňo completed his hatrick, scoring on a third chance rebound after Lunter and David Griger were denied by Rabanser. Lunter would eventually close out the scoring in the sixth minute of the third period, adding to his three assists. Despite the Italians getting a number of chances as Slovakia started to take silly penalties, they were foiled every time by Romančík. Slovakia outshot their opponents 2 to 1, and things are looking promising for the team, although they will have to up their game against the better teams in the group.
Slovakia "18" - Italy "18" 5:0
7. Daňo (Lunter) PP, 24. Daňo (Lunter, Kolena) PP, 44. Šoltés (Kolena, Valjent), 45. Daňo (Lunter, Griger), 47. Lunter (Griger, Daňo) PP
Shots on goal: 42:20
Penalty minutes: 10:14