International Ice Hockey Federation

Belarus moves up

Belarus moves up

U18 team beats Germany to earn promotion

Published 28.11.2016 16:33 GMT+1 | Author Alexander Yakobson, Martin Merk
Belarus moves up
Let the party begin! The Belarusian U18 national team won the deciding game against Germany on home ice 5-3 to earn promotion to the top division. Photo: Yevgenia Zhutchenko
The Belarusian U18 national team moves up to the top division first time since 2010 after winning the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division IA.

Belarus won the tournament thanks to a 5-3 victory against eventual silver-medallist Germany and will play in the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship in Slovakia. Kazakhstan took the bronze medals ahead of France and Norway while Austria was relegated.

Germany entered the last day as the leader with 11 points while host nation Belarus had 9 points from the first four games on its account.

Germany scored three markers in the final period to start with a 6-3 win against Norway, edged Austria 2-0, beat Kazakhstan 4-3 in overtime and earned a 5-3 victory in a difficult game with France to set up a final for promotion with Belarus.

Belarus had a similarly good start. The squad of Yuri Faikov beat Kazakhstan 5-2 thanks to three goals in the last period, then the hosts had a confident 6-3 win against Norway, edged France 3-2 and suffered a 5-4 loss to Austria.

That's why the hosts were in a less comfortable situation before the last game. Germany just needed a point from a win or a tie after 60 minutes but Belarus needed to beat Germany in regulation time to claim the tournament win and promotion. But eventually the loss to Austria didn’t change that much – to win the tournament one team needed to be better than the other. And what a game it was!

“It's difficult to play bad when you have such support as we had today. We realized the whole country was looking on us and remembered well about it,” Belarus head coach Yuri Faikov said.

“The lesson from the game with Austria was in players’ heads. They knew we had to be ready to show our best hockey and stick to the system.”

Germany coach Rick Boehm was just as impressed about the atmosphere.

“The home-team situation definitely helped Belarus with the great and positive fan support they had here. That gave them extra energy. They were fortunate enough to score the first goal which was important since all games here were very close,” he said after the game.

Going into the last game, Germany had its biggest advantage in the net. The two goalies Mirko Pantkowski (92,68%) and Jonas Steinmann (90,48%) were leading the tournament in save percentage. Pantkowski got the start against Belarus while Dmitri Rodik was in the net for the host team that had the better start.

The hosts scored two quick goals within 94 seconds. Captain Maxim Sushko capitalized on a breakaway and set up Igor Martynov’s 1-0 goal. At 4:48 a great shot of Ilya Litvinov went into the net to make it a two-goal lead.

The atmosphere at the Chizhovka Arena was incredible. 9,200 spectators filled the arena that was built as second venue of the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. But before the first intermission Niklas Postel used his chance one-on-one in front of the goalie to cut the lead. It was his second goal and the tournament-leading eighth point for him.

Both teams had a lot of traffic around the goal crease in the second frame. Belarus was again the team to score first through Leonid Ivanoski’s shot on a man advantage. 87 seconds later Charlie Jahnke one-timed the puck after a nice assist from Timo Walther. The teams took many penalties and while playing 4-on-3 the Germans tied the game at three through a shot from Christoph Kiefersauer.

“I think we were well prepared to play the game but we did start poorly. Belarus came out in the first period so much stronger and got a two-goal lead. Our team showed a great deal of character to come back, we tied 3-3 but in the last period Belarus had more scoring chances and deserved the victory,” Germany coach Boehm said. “They played well, they played clever, they didn’t give us a great deal of scoring chances.”

Early in the third period it was again Faikov’s team that took the lead. Sergei Pishuk entered the game sheet with the game-winner at 4:01 and with 1:48 left in regulation time, even before Germany was able to pull the goalie, Martynov scored his second goal of the night to seal the win for Belarus, 5-3!

“Before the tournament we understood that each game was a final. I'm glad with the team and our performance. The main reason for the win was that the players believed in the system. And we believed in the guys,” Faikov said.

Thanks to the tournament victory the Belarusian U18 national team will compete in the top division for the eighth time in history. The 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship will take place in the Slovak towns of Poprad and Spisska Nova Ves from 13 to 23 April 2017.

Germany, which came down from the top division last year, had to settle for the silver medals.

“We were very satisfied with how the team played and how the team presented itself on and off the ice. We were in position to win the tournament on the last day. That was our goal. But we didn’t reach it,” Boehm said. “But overall we were happy how the team played and about the excellent organization of the tournament.”

Kazakhstan beat Austria 5-2 on the last day and secured the bronze medals ahead of France (4th) and Norway (5th). Last-ranked Austria is relegated to next year’s Division I Group B.

The individual awards were given to Germany’s Mirko Pantkowski as best goaltender, Vladislav Martynyuk from Belarus as best defenceman and Sayan Daniyar from Kazakhstan as best forward.


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