Perfect ending for Kazakhstan
by Martin Merk|05 MAY 2019
The Kazakh national team celebrates with the gold medals and trophy.
photo: Marat Akimzhanov
The Kazakh national team also won its fifth game of the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A on home ice in Nur-Sultan to end the tournament with a perfect record.

Kazakhstan beat Hungary 3-1 in a tight game in which they outshot their opponent 35-32.

“Hungary started very well and the whole game was very competitive. In the beginning Hungary was very aggressive but then we could take the initiative and play our game. We took every game very serious. We wanted five wins and it happened. All the players were leaders in this championship and we won like one team,” Kazakh national team captain Talgat Zhailauov said.

The Kazakh fans at the Barys Arena were used that their team starts the game like firefighters trying to distinguish a fire. However, the Hungarians had different ideas and for the first time Kazakhstan didn’t get the lead in the first period despite a 11-7 shot-on-goal advantage. The first 20 minutes ended scoreless.

For both teams the game didn’t have any implications for the standings anymore after the results of the previous two games of the day. Kazakhstan would end up as tournament winner anyway since Belarus didn’t get any points. And Hungary was locked in fifth place. Both Kazakhstan and Belarus secured promotion to the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship already the day before (see story).

That meant Hungary wanted to finish as much on a positive note as Kazakhstan wanted in front of its home crowd.

“The game didn’t matter in the standings, so it was a good test for us to show that we have more pride than we showed in the last game,” said Hungary head coach Gergely Majoross. “Our guys competed for pucks and space. In that regard we took good steps forward. Unfortunately we proved that our scoring efficiency is too low to win a game.”
Kazakhstan vs. Hungary - 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A
KAZ HUN 05 MAY 2019
Eventually it was Kazakhstan which opened the score. Once again the goal scorer was Nikita Mikhailis with his fourth marker of the tournament.

Mikhailis got the puck at the red line from Nikita Kleshenko for a breakaway and beat Hungarian goaltender Bence Balizs with a precise shot.

In the third period it was again the Kazakhs who had a great start. During a power play Anton Nekryach scored his team’s second goal after receiving the puck from the end boards from Yevgeni Rymarev.

However, Istvan Sofron brought Hungary back four minutes later with slick skating in the Kazakh defence and a shot that went in through Sergei Kudrayvtsev’s five-hole.

Hungary’s comeback attempt was stopped by a penalty against Gergo Nagy for hooking. And again Rymarev was involved on the successful man advantage, this time as goal scorer. The 3-1 marker with 2:45 left in regulation time sealed Kazakhstan’s fifth win in the fifth game.

“Even though the game didn’t have any influence in the standings, the players played well for the fans and won the game. We showed an interesting game and I’m happy that we are promoted,” said Kazakhstan head coach Andrei Skabelka.

Medals & Awards

After the end of the game the Kazakh team came back to receive their gold medals. Silver went to Belarus, which together with Kazakhstan will be promoted to the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Switzerland, while Korea had to settle for the bronze medals.

Individual awards were handed to players from three teams. Matt Dalton of Korea won the tournament directorate’s Best Goaltender award and was also voted all-star goalie by the media.

Darren Dietz of Kazakhstan was the number-one choice as Best Defenceman. His teammate Leonid Metalnikov also made it to the All-Star Team as defenceman.

Geoff Platt of Belarus won the Best Forward award of the directorate. He, Kazakhstan’s Nikita Mikhailis and Sangwook Kim of Korea were voted as the three forwards on the All-Star Team.

Mikhailis was voted Most Valuable Player by the accredited media at in Nur-Sultan.
Kazakhstan vs. Hungary - 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A