Romania´s 5-1 win against Ukraine, sees them consolidate their position at the top of the standings at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group B.
Undefeated after four games and with one game to go versus the Netherlands, Romania has it all in their own hands in their quest for gold and promotion to Division IA.
"We all realise that we have a big game coming. The Netherlands had a big win today against Japan, so that shows they are a very good team. We need to stay strong, keep our energy and be mentally prepared for it," said team captain Roberto Gliga who won the Best Player of the Game award for Romania in their win against neighbours Ukraine.
"It was another very good performance from us. We are feeling very confident and having a lot of fun playing hockey. Julius Penzes, our coach is also doing a great job with us. We defend very well and we improved our scoring efficiency compared to last year when we were missing a lot of good chances," said Gliga.
Goals in special play converted in key moments of the game, settled the game in Romania´s favour.
Against Ukraine, they went ahead at 3:52 to settle their nerves. Nikita Butsenko was serving a two-minute minor when Daniel Tranca forced a save from Bogdan Dyachenko, before the puck was stabbed over the line by Balazs Peter.
Despite a man-of-the-match performance by Zoltan Toke against Poland, It was Patrik Polc back in the net for Romania in his third start in the tournament and he was in inspirational form with 30 saves.
Instead, it was Romania who doubled their lead with 10 seconds left of the first period. Once again on a one-man advantage. Pavlo Borysenko from his quarterback position saw his effort saved by Dyachenko, before Gergo Biro reacted ahead of Igor Merezhko to backhand it home.
The second period became one long Ukrainian onslaught as they desperately sought a way back into the game. With Gliga serving two minutes, Ukraine pressed on. Lyalka waited once again too long to unleash and Merezhko in front of the net saw his shot from the slot saved by Polc as Romania weathered the storm.
"We defended very well. I also believe when it was 2-0 to us, Ukraine had a few good opportunities, but it looked like they were playing with them. Somehow they were searching for the empty net and that helped us," said Gliga.
Romania´s Tamas Reszegh had seen his effort on a breakaway hit Dyachenko´s right post, before Ukraine finally got the reward for the endeavor. Sergi Babynets barged down the left wing to slot home Ukraine´s first to cut the deficit to one with 2:21 left of the middle frame.
But once again, Romania got a morale-boosting goal 39 seconds before the buzzer when Mircea Constantin poached in a goalmouth scramble to backhand past Dyachenko.
7:39 into the final frame Romania stretched their lead when Borysenko from the left wing found Anton Butochnov who from the slot dispatched his shot past Dyachenko.
Szilard Rokaly hit the final nail in the coffin as he coolly converted a penalty shot past Dyachenko with 2:32 left.
"It is embarrassing for us with a game like this," said Ukraine´s Mykyta Kovalenko. "We still had the chance for a medal ahead of this game, but we took too many penalties and they capitalised on them."
Currently second from bottom in the table with three points from four games, Ukraine is now up against hosts Estonia in their final game. With relegation being a possibility they now aim to finish off with a win for their passionate travelling support.
"We just need to start playing hockey for our fans who came here. We need to play for them and try and let them go home with a smile on their face," said Kovalenko.