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Stillitano spectacular as Italy takes shutout World Para Hockey win over Germany

Italy goaltender stops every shot he faces through regulation, overtime and shootout in 1-0 win over Germany during World Para Hockey Championship

It was a game to remember for Italy goaltender Santino Stillitano and his teammates to open Day 3 of the World Para Hockey Championship.

Stillitano would stop every shot he faced through regulation, overtime and the shootout as Italy battled to a 1-0 victory over Germany to keep their hopes for a playoff spot alive.

All told, Stillitano would turn aside 26 shots on Tuesday morning, including a host of huge saves in the third period to not only keep the game scoreless but also give his team a chance to win.
And win they did, improving to 1-1 to sit tied for second place in Group B with Germany, who fell to 1-1.

“It’s teamwork, if everyone works together you can stop everything,” Stillitano said through a translator. “And if the team is sure in how I’m playing in net, then I'm sure and relaxed and able to see the game another way and with zero pressure. That’s important.”

Even with Germany controlling the play much of the game -- and especially in the third period when they racked up 13 shots -- Italy limited second chances and prevented many scoring opportunities in front of the net.

That was all by design as Italy took what they had learned in previous games against Germany and put it into practice.

“It asked my players to play really well in the defensive zone because we know Germany is going to play fast and get a lot of shots,” said Italy coach Mirko Bianchi. “I’m so happy for our goaltender, too, he’s one of the older players on our team and had a great game, and the team, too…. to win this kind of game, we have to fight altogether all the time, and if that happens, we’ll see. Today it was good, but now we have to win tomorrow and it’s not finished for us.”

Christoph Depaoli went bar down to score the first goal of the shootout, and after Stillitano stopped Ingo Kuhli-Lauenstein and Felix Schrader, Nils Larch would put on a nifty stickhandling display before slipping a shot past Germany goaltender Simon Kuntz to touch off a raucous celebration by the Italians.

Germany player of the game Jan Malte Brelage was naturally left wondering how things could have been different if they’d had a bit more puck luck on their side.

“We did a great job on defence and on offence as well, but when you don’t shoot a goal, you can’t win a game,” he said. “Mostly we were playing in their end and we had so much pressure on the goal, but their goalkeeper was very good, I have to admit that. We did a very good job and were just unlucky.”

Germany coach Andreas Pokorny was of a similar thought, especially with how they controlled the game for long stretches of time.

“It was a good game, at the beginning we were a little bit nervous but then we found our game,” he said. “Every time it’s a good game against Italy because they play a similar style as us. We had the pressure on them and couldn’t score a goal, and when you don’t score a goal after that many chances, it’s tough.”

Kuntz had a solid game in his own right, carrying his own shutout into the shootout. He’d finish with 10 saves.

Both teams go into the final day of round robin action with their playoff hopes intact. Germany takes on unbeaten China at 11 a.m., while Italy faces winless Norway at 3 p.m. The marquee game of the round robin, Canada vs. the United States, is set for 7 p.m. Wednesday.

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