TAIPEI CITY – With five tight victories – including two in shootouts – Iceland won the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division III Group A in Taipei City.
Top-seeded Iceland started with a 3-1 victory against host Chinese Taipei. Elvar Olafsson opened the scoring on a two-man advantage and added a second goal when the Icelanders were playing shorthanded en route to the win. This two-goal gap turned out to be the biggest for the Icelanders in this tournament but they still won.
In the second game Iceland had a tight battle with Bulgaria. The northmen went up 3-1 in the first period but before the first intermission Bulgaria tied the game at three and gained a 4-3 lead with Kostadin Davidov’s goal at 7:06 of the second frame. Iceland fought back in a strong third period and was eventually rewarded with Edmunds Induss’ goal 101 seconds before the end of regulation time. Olafsson then scored the only goal in the shootout to earn his team a win and a second point from this game.
After a day off history repeated for Iceland in the game against Mexico. The Mexicans earned the lead with an early goal from Diego Ramos. Olafsson tied the score early in the second period but Antonio Najera regained the lead for Mexico with 103 seconds left in the middle frame. Iceland put everything on offence in the third period and was again rewarded late. With goalie Arnar Hjaltested pulled, Iceland’s Latvian-born forward Induss tied the game with 30 seconds left in regulation time. After two rounds of game-winning shots Iceland won the game with goals from Induss and Solvi Atlason.
Iceland also successfully came back in the game against South Africa. Despite outshooting the opponent 69-18 the game remained open until late in the third period. The underdogs from Africa earned a 3-2 lead early in the second period that stayed until midway through the third frame when Markus Maack tied the game at three. Six minutes later Kristjan Kristinsson and Induss added two markers within a span of 59 minutes to make it 5-3. South Africa reacted immediately with Gareth Bremner’s second marker of the day but didn’t manage to tie the game in the dying seconds of the game.
Everything the Icelanders needed on the last day was at least one point against Israel and everything seemed to work out well with three unanswered goals from Altason, Induss and captain Hafthor Sigrunarson. However, Israel challenged the Icelanders. Two goals within 33 seconds from Gur Sever and Dan Hoffman in the second period were a wake-up call for the Icelanders, who defended the 3-2 lead until the end.
Fifth-seeded Mexico improved its ranking in the U18 program with a second-place finish after edging Bulgaria 2-1 in a shootout on the last day, Bulgaria had to settle for the bronze medals. Host Chinese Taipei finished in fourth place also with eight points while Israel was fifth. South Africa lost all games and will be relegated back to the Division III Group B. Final Ranking:
1. Iceland 13
2. Mexico 9
3. Bulgaria 8
4. Chinese Taipei 8
5. Israel 7
6. South Africa 0 Individual Awards as selected by the Tournament Directorate
Best Goalkeeper: Charl Pretorius, South Africa
Best Defenceman: Kevin Pierce, Mexico
Best Forward: Elvar Olafsson, Iceland Click here for scores and stats.