Bulgaria – Turkey 3 – 4 (0-0, 3-1, 0-3)
The first ever international ice hockey tournament held in the luxurious state-of the-art Izmir Ice Hockey Arena started with a bang. Turkey roared back from a two-goal deficit in the third period to beat Bulgaria 4-3 in the IIHF Women’s Division IIB Qualification opening game.
Backed by a number of strong saves in the last minutes of the game from goalie Tanay Gunay, the Turks completed the comeback when Didem Aydogdu scored the game-winning goal with one minute and 47 seconds left in the game.
Down 3-1 five minutes into the final frame, Tuba Dokur took advantage of a bit of confusion in front of the Bulgarian goal, to sneak the puck into the net and make the score 2:3, getting Turkey back into the game. The goal shifted the momentum to Turkey’s side and got the home crowd back into the game. Seda Demir added her second goal and 3rd point of the night, in the 55th minute. She finished with three points on the night and earned Best Player honours.
At the beginning of the game it was the Bulgarians who seemed to start sluggishly, feeling the after-effects of their long bus journey from the day before. The first period saw more chances for the home-team than the guests, but Turkey failed to capitalize on any of its close-range scoring opportunities, continuously challenging the Bulgarian goalie Kamelia Ivanova.
Moving into second period, the action increased in intensity in the 28th minute when, her team short-handed after an exchange of minor penalties, Turkey’s standout player Seda Demir found herself alone in front of the Bulgarian goalie after a breakaway and converted for the 1-0 lead.
The elation did not last long, however, as the home team lost focus late in the 2nd period, allowing Bulgaria take a 3:1 lead with goals coming on a well-controlled power play in the 35th minute, and two quick breakaways just seconds apart in the last minute of the period.
But Turkey came out and finally solved Ivanova in the third, earning a win for the home team in the new arena. Both teams will face Ireland once over the weekend in the round robin tournament.
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