SOFIA – Croatia won the European Qualification to the 2010 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship to be held in Karlstad, Sweden, June 6-14, 2010.
The European Qualification took place last weekend in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia and it seemed to become a neck-and-neck race for the berth in the World Championship between the hosts and Croatia.
Bulgaria beat Turkey (11-2) and Israel (11-3) while Croatia had lopsided wins too, 11-2 vs. Israel and 15-1 vs. Turkey.
However, the 185 spectators saw an all-deciding game with an early decision. After nine minutes, the Croats already achieved a comfortable 5-0 lead. Bulgaria cut it by one goal in the second period but the victory was never in danger for the Croats. The game ended with a final score of 10-2 for the guests. Four of Croatia’s ten goals were scored on one-man advantages.
Tomislav Grozaj was the most successful player with four goals and an assist in the last game. His partner in the first line’s offence, captain Mario Novak, had two goals and two assists.
The Croats had several players from their ice hockey national team on their roster including the two mentioned forwards and goalkeeper Vanja Belic. Eight of the 14 players participated in the 2009 IIHF World Championship Division I where they played ice hockey against teams like Kazakhstan and Slovenia.
Israel finished the tournament in third place after a 7-1 victory against Turkey.
With the victory, Croatia had a successful revenge as they lost to Bulgaria in the tournament two years ago but Bulgaria finished the 2008 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship Division I in last place and was relegated.
Croatia will now join the 2010 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship Division I. Argentina is the other qualifier. They replace the two relegated teams from South Africa and Chinese Taipei.
Scores from the European Qualification in Sofia:
Croatia vs. Israel 11-2 (3-1, 1-0, 2-1, 5-0)
Turkey vs. Bulgaria 2-11 (0-0, 0-2, 1-4, 1-5)
Croatia vs. Turkey 15-1 (3-0, 2-0, 3-0, 7-1)
Bulgaria vs. Israel 11-3 (2-1, 3-1, 3-0, 3-1)
Israel vs. Turkey 7-1 (1-0, 2-0, 1-1, 3-0)
Bulgaria vs. Croatia 2-10 (0-5, 1-1, 0-2, 1-2)
1. Croatia 3/9 (36-5)
2. Bulgaria 3/6 (24-15)
3. Israel 3/3 (12-23)
4. Turkey 3/0 (4-33)