South Africa succeeds at home

Wins deciding Div. III game vs. DPR Korea to earn promotion

22.04.2013
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The South African players celebrate a goal on home ice in Cape Town. Photo: Junaid Samaai

CAPE TOWN – South Africa won the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III on home ice to reach an immediate return to the Division II Group B.

The 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III was played in Cape Town in the Grand West Ice Arena situated in the most elegant casino complex one can imagine in the eastern suburbs of Cape Town. It was the seventh occasion that South Africa hosted a senior World Championship tournament since 1992 in Johannesburg.

Until the final it was a two-horse race when South Africa and DPR Korea were undefeated before the big game on Sunday.

In the final game the host nation were effective and scored when the chances were given. DPR Korea won the shots on goal 34-21 but 18-year-old Jack Nebe in the South African goal had no problems to be one of the heroes of the night.

South Africa earned a 2-0 lead after two periods and survived the last frame when the men from the north of the Korean peninsula increased the pressure on the goal to win the game 4-1 before 1,154 fans.

The big difference was the first line with the skilled Reinecke brothers (Joshua and Mackie) and Uthman Samaai. Josuha Reinecke was awarded as the best forward in the tournament and Mackie Reinecke was the leading point scorer with 18 points (4+14) before his brother with 16 points (9+7) and Samaai 15 (5+10).

The Reinecke brothers were born in Johannesburg but immigrated to Canada and are now playing in Toronto.

Cape Town-born Samaai played the last season some games for the Nazareth College in Rochester, New York, during his current education in the United States. He’s a tall, aggressive player and also a good skater. South Africa’s best defender was Dave Watson while Il Pong Ri of DPR Korea won the award for the best defenceman of the tournament.

The six participating teams were an interesting mixture of countries with different background and possibilities. Besides the host nation the following nations battled for the title: DPR Korea, Luxembourg, Ireland, Greece and the United Arab Emirates.

South Africa was coached by Scottish-born Ronnie Wood and Bob Mancini from USA. Wood moved to South Africa in 1998 and has been involved in the South African ice hockey since then. Mancini has been active with South African ice hockey since late 2011 when he started the South African Coaching Development program with Ronnie Wood to train the next level of coaches in the country.

This program is going from strength to strength. Wood and Mancini were both very proud of their players with their performances during the tournament. They followed the game plan in all games and showed passion and discipline which impressed the crowd in Cape Town.

Wood/Mancini moulded their team into a well-balanced unit. They have skilfully adopted their selection and tactics to the needs of winning the title. The South African team played more physical than the other teams and was also effective in power play with a 35% success rate.

The winning team composed of ten Capeatonians, six players from Gauteng (Johannesburg/Pretoria), two players playing in Canada and one each in Australia and Great Britain.

The composition mirrors that the sport has been growing in Cape Town ever since they opened the new rink back in 2002.

The players from DPR Korea impressed with excellent skating but they had problems with the physical game of the hosts and lacked in scoring efficiency to reach more than the silver medals.

Luxembourg won the bronze medal and won the last three games. Goalie Michal Welter was the hero of that game and was also awarded as the best goalkeeper of the tournament.

Fourth-ranked Ireland impressed with their physical game and their attitude and was able to challenge the top teams when they lost only 2-1 to DPR Korea and 7-4 to South Africa.

Greece only managed to win the game against the United Arab Emirates, 4-3, but the wild celebration after that win among the players, staff and their many supporters was fantastic to watch.

BIRGER NORDMARK

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