NOVI SAD, Serbia – Estonia won the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division II Group B in Novi Sad, Serbia, after defeating all five opponents.
The Estonians lost only one of 15 possible points in a 7-6 overtime win over China, which ended up in last place and will be relegated.
Apart from the struggle against the Chinese, the Estonian U18 national team showed a convincing performance in the tournament, winning all their other games by a margin of three or more goals.
The two deciding games came in the end. First Estonia met host Serbia, which ended up with a 3-2 record and the silver medal.
Sinisa Pajic scored the lead for Serbia after 65 seconds of play, but Estonia had a strong comeback with four goals in the second period to eventually defeat the home team 6-2.
Despite the win, everything was open on the last day. Spain had three points less and could have claimed gold by defeating Estonia in regulation time.
The Spaniards did well for two periods. Carlos Rivero opened the scoring at 13:55 and the 1-0 score stayed for 40 minutes after the Estonians had missed on a penalty shot.
But the Spanish dreams were shattered when the Estonians scored four unanswered goals within an 11-minute span in the third period. After exchanging a pair of goals, Estonia ended up winning the game 5-2 to claim gold. Spain had to settle with the bronze medals behind Estonia and Serbia.
Fourth place went to Iceland, which maintains in Division II one year after getting promoted. Australia and China followed in fifth and sixth place respectively.
The top player of the tournament was Pavel Kulakov, who led the event in scoring (15), goals (9) and +/- stats (+12).
The 18-year-old, who plays for Narva PSK in Estonia’s senior league, was named Best Forward by the Tournament Directorate while his teammate Aleksei Arno was named Best Goalkeeper. He was the only netminder at the event to cross the 90-percent mark in save percentage (92.52%). Serbia’s Ilija Uzelac was named Best Defenceman.Links: Scores & Stats