PIESTANY, Slovakia – For the first time since the U18 World Championship was launched in 1999, Slovakia had to play in the second tier. They did so with a 30-6 goal record and five wins in as many games.
The Slovak team fulfilled its expectations and will be back among the elite nations for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship that will be staged in the brand-new Olympic venues in Sochi, Russia.
The scores in the first four games at the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division I Group A on home ice: 5-0 vs. Italy, 4-1 vs. Japan, 8-2 vs. Slovenia, 4-1 vs. France.
The tournament win was still not sealed as Norway – the other team relegated from the top division last year – could have overtaken Slovakia in the last round with a regulation time win.
However, this scenario proved to be a short-lived dream for the Norwegians.
Cheered on by 3,350 fans in Piestany, the Slovaks opened the gap early in the game. After 16 minutes of play it was already 3-0 thanks to goals from Lubomir Dinda, Martin Reway and Marko Dano. In the end Dano scored a hat trick in a 9-2 victory that made Slovakia receive the gold medals while Norway had to settle for silver.
Dano was the offensively most successful players, leading the stats both in points (13) and goals (10) before a couple of teammates as well as Norway’s Endre Medby (8+1=9 points) and Japan’s Yuri Terrao (5+4=9).
The teams behind Slovakia were close together. Three teams had two wins in five games on their accounts, but the bronze medal went to Italy, which lost two of its three games after a tied regulation-time score.
Japan had bad luck ending up in last place with four points and getting relegated to Division I Group B next years.
1. Slovakia 15
2. Norway 9
3. Italy 7
4. France 5
5. Slovenia 5
6. Japan 4
Individual Awards selected by the Tournament Directorate:
Best Goalkeeper: Patrik Romancik, Slovakia
Best Defenceman: Tomas Rusina, Slovakia
Best Forward: Marko Dano, Slovakia
More: Scores & Stats, Photo Gallery