MONTERREY, Mexico – New Zealand’s U18 national team players danced their traditional Haka dance at the end of the 2010 IIHF World U18 Championship Division III Group B. The deciding game went according to their tune as they edged host Mexico 5-4 to claim promotion to Division II.
Mexico’s dream to go back to Division II after one year on home ice in Monterrey didn’t become true despite a good performance.
Both Mexico and New Zealand went into the final game of the tournament undefeated, but not without hurdles in their way.
Mexico had difficulties against the lower-seeded teams from Ireland (4-2), South Africa (4-2) and Israel (3-2), and also the New Zealanders struggled at the beginning. In their first game of the tournament, the Kiwis had a coming-from-behind 9-8 victory against Israel before defeating Ireland (7-2) and South Africa (5-2).
Mexico seemed to be on its way to Division II in the last game. 500 fans in the Monterrey Ice Complex saw their team take a 3-0 lead with first-period goals from Oscar Flores, Nestor Ibarra and Diego Linares.
For the New Zealanders, the task to win the tournament following a three-goal deficit was all but easy, but they gained hope when Connor Harrison and Remy Sandoy scored two goals after the first intermission. Mexico captain Christian Smithers made it 4-2 in favour of the home team before the middle stanza ended.
Things changed in the last period with three more New Zealand goals. Harrison netted his second goals while Gareth Lloyd had two goals including the 5-4 game winning goal at 49:50.
South Africa claimed the bronze medal after a 5-4 shootout win against Israel. Ireland finished fifth and last.
South Africa’s Jack Nebe was named Best Goalkeeper by the tournament directorate. He led all goalkeepers with a 90.08 save percentage.
Mexico’s Francisco Padilla was selected Best Defenceman and New Zealand’s Connor Harrison Best Forward. He had 12 points (7+5) in the scoring race and was third behind his teammate Gareth Lloyd (10+4=14) and Israel’s Vitali Shvarzman (8+4=12).
More information: Scores & Statistics
.Game action between Ireland and Mexico in Monterrey. Photo: Ulises Gutiérrez Bonilla