UKR, LTU make statement wins
by Andrew Podnieks|30 APR 2024

Ukraine 9-China 0

Ukraine came up with a huge and impressive win to start the third day of Division I-B today, outshooting China 50-7 and outscoring them 9-0. Eduard Zakharchenko picked up the easy shutout while the attack was led by captain Igor Merezhko, who had two goals and two assists. He also had eight shots on goal, which was more than the entire Chinese team. 

Ukraine now sits atop the standings with a perfect 3-0 record and nine points while China falls to 2-1 and has six points.

Merezhko got the Ukrainians going with an early goal. Stationed in the slot, he took a perfect pass from Olexi Vorona behind the net and snapped a quick shot past the blocker of Shifeng Chen at 2:08. A further three-goal spurt midway through the period gave Ukraine control of a game they never relinquished.

Olexander Peresunko made it 2-0 by taking advantage of a poor line change from China and going in alone, beating Chen under the glove at 9:46. Then, Pylyp Pangelov-Yuldashev made it 3-0 two minutes later off a blast from the faceoff dot with Chen screened. Vorona finished this outburst when he knocked in a rebound on a power play. 

Ukraine added two more goals in the second and three in the third. Merezhko, Peresunko, and Pangelov-Yuldashev are now tied for the tournament lead in scoring, all with six points. 

Estonia 4-Spain 3 (OT)

Another captain stepped to the fore in the second game. Estonia’s C-man Robert Rooba scored two goals, including the winner in overtime, and added an assist to lead his team to a critical 4-3 win over Spain. The two points take Estonia out of last place and into a more comfortable fourth place. It won’t be enough to earn them promotion, but it might be vital to avoiding relegation.

Estonia dominated play all game, but Spain kept the score close, tied the game in the third, and forced overtime, securing a point that might also prove important. Morten Jurgens opened the scoring at 3:02 banging in a rebound on the power play. Six minutes later, Spain tied the game on a power play of their own when Estonia’s goalie Villem-Henrik Koitmaa took a high-sticking penalty. Just five seconds later, Bruno Baldris’s long wrist shot found its way through traffic over the goalie’s shoulder.

The Spanish took a lead after just 18 seconds of the second period on a Pablo Zaballa goal, but two goals from Estonia gave them the 3-2 lead after 40 minutes. However, in the final minute Rasmus Kiik incurred a major penalty and game misconduct, and that penalty came back to haunt the Estonians early in the third when Jaime Capillas tied the game. His quick one-timer on the back side of the play beat Koitmaa before he could go post-to-post, and the rest of the period was scoreless, forcing overtime.

Estonia got the winner from their captain just 46 seconds after the start of the five-minute, three-on-three. He took a nice pass from Kristjan Kombe to split the defenders, went in alone, and beat Raul Barbo cleanly.

Lithuania 3-Netherlands 2

The Dutch scored their first two goals of the tournament and gave a valiant effort but fell just short against Lithuania in the final game of the day. The win moves Lithuania into a first-place tie with Ukraine while the Netherlands remains alone in last place without a win or point, demotion looming large in their psyche.

The Dutch played their best period of the tournament in the first, keeping the game scoreless and limiting the Lithuanians to just eight shots. Early in the second, they opened the scoring on the power play. Jay Huisman jammed the puck over the line on a wild scramble. Not the prettiest goal, but the Dutch will take them any which way right now. 

Just two minutes later, though, Lithuania tied the score on a Mark Kaleinikovas goal, and midway through they took the lead for the first time. Captain Nerijus Alisuaskas took a long shot from the point that eluded Ruud Leeuwesteijn and sent the home crowd into a frenzy of excitement. 

They added another goal midway through the third, but when Lennart Vossmer made it 3-2 a few minutes later, it set the stage for a frantic finish. The Lithuanians took a penalty, and Leeuwesteijn came to the bench to make it a two-player advantage, but the hosts held on for the win.

Up next on the penultimate day of play will see Ukraine play Spain in the early game followed by Estonia-Netherlands and another critical battle, China and Lithuania.