SOFIA – Bulgaria returns to the 2013 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship Division I. Two months after being relegated, the Bulgarians won the European qualification tournament they hosted in Sofia.
After starting with a lopsided 14-3 victory over the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the Bulgarians faced a tough challenge against a new entry in the inline hockey program, Latvia.
Rolands Dietlavs opened the scoring for the Latvians, but the home team came back thanks to a great night from Stanislav Muhachov, who scored four goals and added an assist to earn Bulgaria a 5-2 lead until early in the fourth quarter.
Latvia reacted with a pair of goals scored within a 14-second span by Maksims Firsovs, and with three minutes left in regulation time Dietlavs tied it at five with his second goal of the game.
At 3:21 of the extra period it was Stoyan Bachvarov who scored Bulgaria’s game-winning goal, clinching first place for his country.
The day after Bulgaria had the chance to seal the tournament win against Turkey. Same as one year ago the Bulgarians succeeded with a win.
The game was virtually decided halfway through the game when the Bulgarians built up a five-goal lead. Martin Boyadjiev led the way with four goals. Turkey caught up in the second half of the game, but didn’t come closer than the final score of 8-4.
Latvia, the newest entry in the inline hockey program after FYR Macedonia one year ago, finished in second place after defeating Turkey (14-4) and FYR Macedonia (28-2). Turkey finished in fourth place winning its only game against FYR Macedonia, which remains winless in IIHF competition, 18-3.
Bulgaria already won the event one year ago to join the inline family at the World Championship in Ingolstadt, Germany, earlier this summer, but it was rather a painful debut. The Bulgarians lost their five games with a 9-74 goal record.
At the 2013 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship in Dresden, Germany, 2-8 June 2013, the Bulgarians will have a new chance to at Division I level. The team is set for Group C with Great Britain, Croatia and Australia.
The second qualifier will be determined at the Rest of the World Qualification that will be held in December 2012. The venue and participants will be announced later.
Click here for the 2012 European InLine Hockey Qualification.
Click here for an overview of the IIHF’s InLine Hockey Program.