MEXICO CITY – Mexico won the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship Division III on home ice in Mexico City and is promoted to next year’s Division II along with second-placed Serbia.
The seven-team event ended after ten days of play in Mexico’s capital. It opened and ended with well-attended games at this level and with an undefeated Mexican team.
Mexico’s opening game took place on the city’s main square, Plaza de la Constitución, also known as Zócalo, at an outdoor rink between Aztec pyramids, the Cathedral, and the National Palace.
3,000 fans on the temporary tribunes and probably 10,000 altogether with restaurant guests and people from rooftop viewpoints saw Mexico win its opening game against Bulgaria, 8-0.
“It was a great and well-organized opening game and it did a lot to promote ice hockey in Mexico,” said IIHF Council Member Ernest Aljancic, who was the chairman of the tournament. “Many of these people saw hockey for the first time.”The players enter the ice of the Zócalo outdoor rink. Photo: Jorge Femat Solis
The game that was also broadcast on TV was part of the one-month Magia de la Navidad (“Magic of Christmas”) featuring wintery events in the mild climate, which included the ice rink with its special Christmas decoration.
The Mexicans adapted well to the ice that was a bit soft in the beginning due to the warm temperatures of up to 25°C, but it improved once the sun went down. But the Mexicans were not only successful in the heart of their capital city, but also indoors.
They continued the event by defeating Turkey (7-5), Chinese Taipei (9-1), DPR Korea (6-0) and New Zealand (5-1) before playing top-seeded Serbia for the last game.
The Serbs also faced little challenge in their first five games and they won them by an even higher margin than Mexico. But the last match between the undefeated teams at the Lomas Verdes indoor rink was much to the taste of the 3,000 Mexican fans that filled the arena.
Hector Carrero, on the power play, and Ruben Cuevas, with a shorthander, opened the scoring in the first period. The Mexicans had more scoring chances due to the many penalty calls against the Serbian team, but Aleksa Lukovic scored the important 2-1 goal for Serbia with 94 seconds remaining in the second period.
Mexico sealed the win in the third period with goals from Aaron Duff at 3:22 and Miguel Colas at 11:45. Dimitrije Filipovic cut the lead in the dying minutes and Serbia pulled their goalie, but the score remained 4-2 and Mexico won the gold while Serbia had to settle with silver. Both teams earned promotion to Division II.
DPR Korea secured the bronze medals before Turkey and New Zealand. The North Koreans defeated New Zealand 11-3 on the last day to claim third place.
Bulgaria finished in sixth place, winning its only game against Chinese Taipei, 6-5 in a shootout.Best Player Awards as selected by the Directorate:
Best Goalkeeper: Asenije Rankovic, Serbia
Best Defenceman: Manuel Escandon, Mexico
Best Forward: Serkan Gumus, TurkeyLinks: Scores & Stats, Photo Gallery