MEXICO CITY – Team Mexico has won promotion on home ice at the 2016 IIHF Ice Hockey U20 World Championship Division III.
This is the country’s third gold medal in this category, the last two coming in 2005 and 2011. All three tournaments have been won with Mexico hosting the event in the capital Mexico City.
The Division III victory means that Mexico will advance to compete in the Division II Group B championship next year, for the first time under head coach Luis Olivares.
A 3-0 shutout of tournament runners-up Bulgaria on the fourth day of the round robin proved the deciding game for Mexico. The Bulgarians were upset 4-3 by Israel the following day while Mexico put up a 2-1 win over New Zealand to give itself the key tiebreaker against both teams with still one day left to play.
Mexico managed to win the tournament without having one player among the top ten in scoring. The team’s success came in net as goaltender Jaime Perez backstopped Mexico in all five of its wins, posting a 2.12 GAA and 92.04 save percentage in the process to earn the Directorate Best Goaltender nod.
Against Bulgaria Perez got his only shutout of the tournament, while forward Luis Cruz scored two goals, including one on a penalty shot, and Nicolas Fonseca added another to give Mexico the win. Against New Zealand Arturo Garcia stepped up and scored both his team’s goals, the game winner coming in the second period.
Bulgaria finished in second place, while New Zealand took third. Israel produced the tournament’s top three scorers and potted 39 goals in six games, but had a rough start with tight losses to Mexico and Iceland and was blown out 6-2 by New Zealand, leaving the team out of the medals.
New Zealand’s Oliver Hay earned the Directorate Best Forward selection, while the Best Defenceman award went to Turkey’s Fatih Faner. Click here for scores and statistics