Favourites stay perfect
by Andrew Podnieks|28 APR 2024
Ukraine won their second straight game by shutout and are tied for first place in the standings.
China 7-Spain 1
China continued its winning ways, taking another three points in the standings with a solid 7-1 win over Spain today. Juncheng Yan had two goals for the victors while Yuyang Hou had a goal and two assists. Hou now leads the tournament with five points in two games.

China got on the board early when a Yan shot bounced off the glove of goalie Raul Barbo and dribbled over the line. Video review was required to make sure there was no high stick on the play. Spain made a game of it late in the period when Jaime Capillas tied the score during a mad scramble around the China net. Gaston Gonzalez had an open side but was stymied, and the puck squirted free from a sprawling Shifeng Chen. Capillas was there to poke the puck over the line with 2:02 remaining. 

The Spanish celebration was short-lived, however. Hou put the Chinese ahead 2-1 at 19:14 when he went coast to coast to score a highlight-reel goal. He drove down the left wing, cut in on goal, and found an opening between the pads of Barbo.

The second was evenly played, and the Spanish had two of the three power-play chances, but it was a late China goal that changed the momentum once and for all. Jianing Guo finished off a nice pass from Jing Wang, who had taken a lovely stretch pass from Hou in his own end. 

In the third, China exploded for four goals, finally establishing their superiority and pulling away for their second win. The Spanish, now 0-2, are getting desperate for some offense after having scored just the one goal in their two losses.

Lithuania 6-Estonia 1
Lithuania continued their winning ways on home ice with a key 6-1 win over Estonia. The hosts keep pace with China and are 2-0 now, while Estonia remains in last place alongside Spain with an 0-2 record.

The fireworks started early in this game. Mark Kaleinikovas opened the scoring after just 38 seconds, snapping in a loose puck from the slot to get the home crowd into the game. Estonia tied the score a few minutes later on the power play. Goalie Mantas Armalis made the stop on the initial shot but a mad scramble in front saw the puck slip free. Morten Jurgens jammed it in at 6:03 to tie the game, 1-1.

Lithuania responded with a goal soon after and another later in the period. Paulius Gintautas put his team ahead with a power-play goal at 7:37, and then Povilas Verenis gave the Lithuanians a bit of breathing room at 13:02 after Tadas Kumeliauskas stripped Saveli Novikov of the puck and fed Verenis alone in front. That spelled the end for Molder, who was replaced by Villem-Henrik Koitmaa.

Kaleinikovas got his second of the game late in the second to make it 4-1 when his wrist shot from in front whistled by the glove of Koitmaa at 15:18. There was no let up in the third. Lithuania outshot Estonia 14-2 and scored two more goals to coast to victory.

Ukraine 4-Netherlands 0
Ukraine kept pace with China and Lithuania, winning their second game in a row and creating a three-way tie for first place. At the other end, the Dutch are now in a three-way tie at the bottom of the standings with an 0-2 record to match Estonia and Spain.

Ukraine dominated from start to finish, outshooting the Netherlands 44-15, scoring in every period, and killing off all five short-handed situations. Ukraine has yet to concede a goal in Vilnius and leads the tournament with 12 goals. Eduard Zakharchenko got the shutout today.

They got on the board early in this one, scoring at 7:13 of the first off a goal from Pylyp Pangelov-Yuldashev on the power play. He blew a hard shot past Martijn Oosterwijk from the top of the circle.

About two minutes later the referees discovered a problem with the ice along the boards and determined significant repairs needed to be done to make the playing conditions safe. They sent the players back to their respective dressing rooms at 10:31 and completed the first period after an early intermission. 

Soon after returning, Igor Merezhko made it 2-0 seconds after a Ukraine penalty had expired. His shot off the rush surprised Oosterwijk and gave Ukraine a healthy lead after the first period. Viktor Zakharov added a third goal midway through the second and Olexander Peresunko made it 4-0 early in the third. The Dutch have yet to score a goal and need to find a way to put the puck in the net to avoid demotion later this week. 

After an off day tomorrow, things will start getting a little dicey on Tuesday. The first game of the day will feature Ukraine and China, two undefeated teams. They’ll be followed by Spain-Estonia and Lithuania-Netherlands.