The New Zealand mens hockey team went within a whisker of scoring their best win of the Olympic tournament, but were held to a 5-5 draw by Germany at Riverbank Arena tonight. The Black Sticks finished fifth in their pool of six teams, whereas the Germans, ranked third in the world, have progressed to the semi-finals. But it didnt look like that in tonights game. New Zealand led 5-2 at one point and the Germans only finally equalised in the second-last minute. Though the game was played in rain, it was open and free-flowing. Nick Wilson opened the scoring for New Zealand in the fourth minute with a nicely-taken field goal. The Black Sticks dream start continued two minutes later when Richard Petherick converted a penalty corner. Germany pulled one back with a field goal by Oskar Deecke after 10 minutes. The frenetic scoring continued in the 21st minute when Stephen Jenness added New Zealands third. Florian Fuchs replied for Germany after 27 minutes, making it 3-2. But the Black Sticks pushed their lead to 4-2 when Simon Child converted from a penalty corner. One minute into the second spell, the Black Sticks stretched their 4-2 halftime lead to 5-2 with another goal by Child, this time from open play. Then the game began to turn. Thilo Stralkowski scored from a penalty corner after 47 minutes and Christopher Zeller added two field goals, the last one in the 69th minute to level the scores at 5-5. There was just time for Child to have a final crack at producing the winner before the end of the game. Germany created more scoring chances they had 21 shots at goal, 14 from open play, to New Zealands 12, three from open play. However, there is no doubting New Zealand had the winning of the game. In a way the match summed up their tournament nearly, but not quite. The Black Sticks have beaten India, drawn with Germany and Belgium and lost to The Netherlands and Korea. The New Zealanders will play Argentina on Friday for ninth place.
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