IZMIR, Turkey – Last year Belgium was relegated from the U20 Division II after six years but their stay in Division III was only short as the Belgians outscored their opponents 37-3 in five wins.
Belgium started with a 4-0 blanking of Mexico before facing the team that would end up in second place. New Zealand proved to be the biggest challenge and opened the scoring with a goal from Aaron Henderson but Belgium earned a 2-1 lead by the end of the first period and finished off with a 4-1 victory.
The Belgians continued with a 9-0 victory against host Turkey, a 6-2 win against South Africa and finished off with a 14-0 blanking of Bulgaria.
It was especially Belgium’s first line that shone in Izmir with five of the tournament’s top-seven scorers coming from the team led by forward Michael van Egdom (5+7) and defenceman Frank Neven (6+5).
New Zealand’s Henderson was third in scoring, the best goal scorer with seven goals and three assists and was named Best Forward by the tournament directorate.
Neven was named Best Defenceman and Belgium’s Neil Bruyninckx Best Goalkeeper. He was in the net during all five games and had a 95.31 save percentage.
For New Zealand winning Division III silver was the best performance in the U20 category in six years and was a result of clear wins in the four other games.
Mexico finished in third place before Turkey, South Africa and Bulgaria. For the latter team the tournament was a major disappointment as the south-eastern European nation entered the event as second-seeded team but didn’t manage to repeat last year’s results. The Bulgarians remained winless and lost to their closest opponent, South Africa, in overtime thanks to Dylan Compton’s second goal of the game in the extra period.
for scores and stats.