Italy beat Germany to begin on a winning note ©IPC Sledge Hockey/Twitter

Defending champions Italy came from behind to ensure a winning start at the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Ice Sledge Hockey European Championships at the Östersund Arena.

The holders fell behind to Germany at the Swedish rink but recovered to win 3-1 in the first game of the tournament today.

Bernhard Hering put the Germans in front following an assist by Robert Pabst, but Florian Planker levelled to leave the score at 1-1 at the end of the first period.

In the second, the Italians went in front on the powerplay thanks to Gianluigi Rosa, who combined with Planker.

The latter then struck for his second goal in the third period to complete the scoring.

All six teams will play each other once in a round-robin format at the Championships, with Italy hoping to defend the title they won four years ago in Sollefteå, another Swedish venue.

Russia began with a fine win over Czech Republic
Russia began with a fine win over Czech Republic ©IPC Sledge Hockey/Twitter

Elsewhere, Paralympic silver medallists Russia enjoyed a thumping start by thrashing Czech Republic 5-0.

Their skipper Dmitrii Lisov gave them the lead before Konstantin Shikhov doubled the advantage in the second period.

Three further goals arrived in the third, with Ilia Volkov and Alexey Amosov striking, either side of Shikhov's second of the game.

Russia, who lost the Paralympic gold medal game 1-0 to United States on home ice at Sochi 2014, will be one of the teams to beat in Ostersund.

Hosts Sweden made a bad start, however, losing 2-0 to rivals Norway with Rolf Pederson scoring twice.