Hosts to battle Ukraine for promotion
by Andrew Podnieks|01 MAY 2024
Ukraine and Spain both have four regulation wins so far. They play for promotion on Friday.
Ukraine 6-Spain 1
Danil Trakht and Stanislav Sadovikov scored two goals each to lead Ukraine to a 6-1 win over Spain. The win keeps the Ukrainians a perfect 4-0 and in top spot in the standings, while the loss means Spain still has only one point from an overtime loss to Estonia.

The win sets up a showdown on Friday with Lithuania, the winner earning promotion to Division I-A, the loser staying in I-B. At the other end, and equally important for their federations, Spain and Netherlands also play, the winner remaining in I-B and the loser being demoted to II-A for 2025.

Today’s game was scoreless in the first, thanks mostly to Spanish goalie Marco Hernandez. Spain fed off his play and opened the scoring early in the second, Gaston Gonzalez connecting on a power play. Ukraine didn’t tie the game until late in the period, thanks to Trakht’s first of the game, and in the third they peppered Hernandez with 17 shots and scored five times, including two on the power play, to pull away. 

Estonia 3-Netherlands 2
Another stronger effort from the Dutch yielded nothing in the standings but will perhaps give them added confidence heading into the final, critical day of play. Today, Estonia managed a close win, in large part thanks to Kristjan Kombe, who scored once and assisted on the other two goals. 

This game also was scoreless in the first, but Estonia got on the board early in the second on a power-play goal from Morten Jurgens at 4:44. Finn Filippini tied the game for the Netherlands seven minutes later, but soon after Kombe gave the Estonians another lead. 

The Dutch tied the game early in the third, but Robert Rooba, the team’s leading scorer, put Estonia ahead for good at 9:51 of the third. 

Lithuania 3-China 0
Lithuania kept pace with Ukraine in the final game of the day, shutting out China 3-0, and setting up a "one-game for promotion" showdown on Friday night. Mantas Armalis got the shutout for the hosts, his second of the tournament, stopping all 15 shots. 

The game ended in perhaps the oddest way imaginable. As time wound down, Lithuania enjoyed a power play. They got to puck to the goal, and Ruinan Yan closed his hand on the puck in the crease as a melee developed behind the goal. Once players had been separated, the referees awarded Lithuania a penalty shot with only two seconds on the clock. Martynas Grinuis took it and scored, finishing the scoring in a convincing 3-0 victory.

Mark Kaleinikovas gave Lithuania a 1-0 lead early in the first with his fourth goal of the tournament, and a scoreless second period suggested there was more to this battle still to be played. But Lithuania took charge in the final 20 minutes, added an early goal from Paulius Gintautas, and closed out the scoring with the penalty-shot goal.

After an off day tomorrow the round-robin tournament concludes on Friday, starting with a Netherlands-Spain battle to avoid demotion. That will be followed by China-Estonia, two teams that will be back in I-B next year, and then the big one for promotion between Lithuania and Ukraine.