BELGRADE – One year after being relegated, the Netherlands’ U18 national team won the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division II Group B in Belgrade, Serbia, to qualify for next year’s Group A.
The Dutch swept the tournament with a 5-0 record. After defeating eventual silver medallist Spain 6-2 in the opening round, the orange team followed up with a sweep of the other participants – Iceland (4-2), Australia (7-1), Belgium (5-2) and Serbia (4-2).
The final game against the second-seeded host wasn’t an easy one before 1,324 fans in Belgrade. The Dutch needed one point to secure first spot. Jordy Knoren and Guus van Nes scored the lead twice, but Vladimir Djakovic and Andrej Zwick tied it up for the Serbs.
A pair of goals within a 20-second span from Danny Stempher and Max Hermens sealed the win for the Dutch, who outshot Serbia 44-14.
The Netherlands started to centralize most of its juniors of this age group in their development program. 15 players came from the Eindhoven High Techs while the remaining seven players on the U18 national team coached by Czech Bo Subr joined from five club teams.
The Dutch didn’t have dominating players as junior national teams often have at Division II level. Their strength was their depth as several line combinations were able to score in almost any game.
After winning bronze the year before, Spain claimed the silver medals in Belgrade. The Spaniards won their key game against Serbia 3-2 on the second day and also had the tournament’s scoring leader with Patricio Fuentes from Txuri Urdin San Sebastian, who notched 15 points (4+11) in four games.
Serbia won bronze in a competitive tournament with third place ahead of recently promoted Belgium, Iceland and Australia. The team from down under will have to play in Division III next season after losing all games.
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1. Netherlands 15
2. Spain 12
3. Serbia 9
4. Belgium 6
5. Iceland 3
6. Australia 0
Individual Awards as selected by the Tournament Directorate:
Best Goalkeeper: Keanu Evers, Belgium
Best Defenceman: Thijs Voorn, Netherlands
Best Forward: Bryan Henry, Belgium