Ukraine up, Netherlands down
by Andrew Podnieks|03 MAY 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Sarunas Mazeika

Spain 1-Netherlands 0

The final day started with a game as simple as it was important. The winner would remain in Division I-B for 2025; the loser would drop down to II-A.

With that in mind, the Dutch fought with all their might but came up one goal short. Indeed, that was their trouble all tournament. They were shut out in three of the five games they played and scored only four goals, going 0-5 in the process.

The Spanish finished with a win and an overtime loss, good enough for four points and fifth place in the standings. Today, the difference was Adrian Torralba, whose goal early in the third was the only one of the game. Goalie Raul Barbo stopped 15 shots for the goose egg, while Martijn Oosterwijk faced double that number at the other end.

The Dutch had a great chance to break the ice in the first period. They had the only three power plays of the opening 20 minutes, all minor penalties to Quim Muratet spaced out over the course of the period, but they came up empty. In the second, it was almost the exact opposite as the Spanish had three power plays (and the Dutch a fourth).

Finally, early in the third, Torralba clicked on another five-on-four advantage when a long point shot from Bruno Baldris hit him in front and went in at 1:45. That was all the Spanish needed to book a date in I-B for 2025, while the Netherlands will go down and try to fight their way back to I-B.

Estonia 3-China 1

Today’s middle game was for pride and gaining valuable tournament experience. The result affected the standings only in a small way, Estonia, with the win, finishing in third place and China in fourth. The Estonians ended the tournament with three wins and two losses while China was 2-3.

Although the score was close, the puck possession wasn’t, as Estonia controlled the first two periods and then were successful in subduing China’s impressive push in the third. Robert Rooba opened the scoring midway through the first on a five-on-three, scoring his team-best fourth goal of the tournament. That goal held up until midway through the third when Daniil Fursa doubled their lead on another power-play marker.

Less than two minutes later, however, China cut the lead in half and had their best sequences of play, but with goalie Shifeng Chen on the bench they couldn’t tie the score and Rooba added another into the empty net. 

Ukraine 4-Lithuania 1

Both teams knew the importance of this game. A win would mean promotion to I-A, tougher competition, greater prestige. And as it turned out, Ukraine wanted it that little bit more than the hosts, scoring in each period and claiming top spot in the standings. This is the first trip to I-A for Ukraine since 2017.

Lithuania came out over-exuberant and incurred the only three penalties of the first, one of which cost them a goal. After moving the puck around crisply, Danil Trakht got the disc at the left faceoff dot. He snapped a shot over the arm of Mantas Armalis at 9:19. 

Midway through the second, Trakht scored again, this time tipping a great pass in front from Ivan Sysak, for his fifth goal of the tournament. And in the third, Andri Denyskin made it 3-0 early on during a power play he created. He blew up ice chased by three Lithuanians, drawing a penalty. His quick shot beat Armalis at 13:54 to put the game out of reach.

Nevertheless, Lithuania broke Bogdan Dyachenko's shutout with a power-play goal in the dying minutes to give the home fans some hope, but Olexander Peresenko iced the win with an empty netter just 40 seconds later.

NOTES: Peresenko led the tournament in points with 11. He and Rooba were the top goalscorers with five, and Kristjan Kombe led all players with six assists.