SOFIA – Belgium won the 2012 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division III Group A in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia. The Belgians won all five games including the deciding one against New Zealand on Sunday, 8-3.
The Belgians had their tightest score in the opening game when they defeated eventual bronze-medal winner Mexico 5-2. Nestor Ibarra scored two goals to give the Mexicans a 2-1 lead, but Belgium turned it around with four goals in the last eight minutes of play.
After the early scare against Mexico, the Belgians swept through the rest of the tournament, defeating Chinese Taipei (9-1), Bulgaria (9-5), South Africa (17-1) and eventual silver medallist New Zealand (8-3).
Belgium mastered coming-from-behind victories also in other games. They were trailing 4-2 against Bulgaria before making it 5-5 with three goals within five minutes in the middle period and adding four more in the last period.
The Belgians also had a deficit in the deciding game for gold and promotion to Division II Group B against New Zealand, which also won its first four games. Frazer Ellis got the early lead for the Kiwis, but Bryan Henry scored a hat trick to make it 3-1 and in the end the score was 8-3 for Belgium at Sofia’s Winter Sports Palace, where attendances were up to 1,250.
The gold-medal winners impressed with an efficient offence with scoring leader Yoren de Smet (6+10=16 points) and top goal scorer Michael van Egdom (10+5=15 points).
Of the top-five scorers three were Belgians, the others being Bulgaria’s Ivan Hodulov (9+5=14), Belgium’s Bryan Henry (7+7=14) and Mexico’s Nestor Ibarra (6+6=12).
Michael van Egdom was named Best Forward by the Tournament Directorate. Mexico’s Richard Albrecht was named Best Goakeeper and New Zealand’s Kahu Joyce Best Defenceman.
Host Bulgaria finished in fourth place behind the medal winners Belgium, New Zealand and Mexico, and before Chinese Taipei and South Africa.
Scores & Statistics
Photo Gallery BEL-NZL game & closing ceremony
Photo Gallery all photos