Slovenian juniors promoted

Ukraine lost fight for top spot on home ice


The Slovenian players celebrate the promotion to Division I. Photo: Pavlo Kubanov / IHF UKR

KYIV – Slovenia won the 2010 IIHF World U18 Championship Division II Group B to claim promotion to Division I. The Slovenes beat Ukraine 2-1 in the deciding game in the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv.

Both teams didn’t lose a point in their first four games prior to their head-to-head meeting on Sunday.

Slovenia had the better start outshooting Ukraine 13-6 in the first period, while jumping to a 2-0 lead. Ziga Pesut got both for Slovenia, with a power-play goal at 16:09 and a second goal with 14 seconds left in the first period.

Ukraine, cheered on by a home crowd of 2,012 fans at Terminal Arena tried hard to come back, but they were not able to capitalize on their chances and their three power plays in the middle period.

At 40:37, Dmytro Khanin cut the lead, but Slovenia goalkeeper Luka Gracnar didn’t allow a second goal and Slovenia celebrated with the gold medals following the 2-1 victory.

Spain claimed the bronze medal following a 3-2 win against the Netherlands thanks to Javier Garcia-Arias’ overtime goal.

The Dutch finished in fourth ahead of Belgium and Australia.

Also the game for fifth place needed an overtime decision as Belgium’s Joeri von Puymbroeck scored the game-winning goal with seven seconds left in overtime that sends Australia to Division III.

Thanks to his two goals in the last game, Ziga Pesut won the scoring race together with his teammate Rok Leber. Both Slovenes had 10 goals and 13 assists each. Both players have chosen development in Sweden.

Pesut transferred from his hometown Maribor to Grums IK last year, where he played in the second-tier U20 and U18 leagues, and in men’s fourth division.

Also Leber moved from Maribor to Sweden where he plays for the Lidingö Vikings.

The tournament directorate gave two individual awards to the Slovenian team. Gasper Cerkovnik was named best defenceman and Gal Koren best forward. Koren had 23 points (9+14) too. He plays in the highest German junior league for Adler Mannheim while Cerkovnik plays for Jesenice.

Ukraine’s Dmytro Berezin was named best goalkeeper. He had a 94.83 save percentage and kept Ukraine in the race for promotion against Slovenia with a 36-save performance.

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