"You always think to take first place, but sometimes it isn’t going to happen," said Ukraine's forward Olexander Peresunko, who scored twice in the game. "It's hockey. I think we had a bad game against Japan. If we won that game, maybe everything would be different. The same with Poland, we had a really great game and lost in a shoot-out. We had really good chances in overtime on the power play, but it didn't happen.
"We wanted to take first place, but third is good too."
Promotion and relegation were already settled, but the final game of the Division IB tournament was far from a dead rubber. For Ukraine, there was also a chance at redemption. The previous outing ended in a crushing 2-8 loss against Japan, a performance described as “not a game, but a catastrophe” on the Ukrainian Hockey Federation website. Today, a big improvement was promised - and delivered. After allowing eight goals for the first time in 15 years, Ukraine responded with eight at the other end.
Estonia also had ample motivation. Bronze in this tournament would represent another more than solid result for the Baltic nation, particularly given the 11 World Championship rookies on Jussi Tupamaki’s roster. There was also a chance to prove that 2019’s first ever victory over Ukraine was no freak result.
Merezhko, who was named the best defenceman at the tournament, added: "We had a bad game yesterday, but we turned it around. We learned from it and played better today."
Estonia had chances to tie it up, though. Andre Linde and Kevin Parras set up a well-worked rush, but Klaus Kaspar Jogi was denied by a good save from Dmytro Kubrytsky. The teenaged Ukrainian goalie started this game after recovering from the hand injury he suffered against Japan, and he was busy again just before the intermission when the Estonian first line crashed the net. Robert Arrak had two bites at the cherry but was unable to stuff the puck through Kubrytsky’s pads and the resultant scramble ended with players lying all over the crease before the officials called a halt to proceedings.
Early in the second period, Estonia got into penalty trouble and Ukraine seized the momentum. It took some time to turn that into a second goal, but in the 27th minute Mykhailo Simchuk doubled the lead when he converted a gift-wrapped opportunity from Olexi Vorona’s feed. Simchuk is the 19-year-old son of Ukraine’s assistant coach, Konstantin, who played in goal for his country at the 2002 Olympics and six World Championships from 2001-2006. Mykhailo’s goal was his second at this tournament, his first taste of IIHF senior action.
Within two minutes, it was 3-0. Ukraine won a puck battle in the corner and Peresunko came powering behind the net to score on the wraparound. Peresunko, 22, spent three seasons playing in North American junior hockey, most recently with the QMJHL’s Victoriaville Tigres. He moves to three goals for this tournament after potting a brace in the opening victory over Serbia.
Estonia never recovered from that double blow, and Ukraine increased its lead late in the second stanza when Lyalka forced home the fourth goal from close range. Peresunko had an assist on that play and added his second goal of the night before the second intermission with Estonia in danger of collapsing.
"This was our best game of the tournament," Peresunko added. "Estonia wasn't the worst team here, but we got two or three quick goals on them and they kinda folded."
Henrik Virro took over in goal for the Estonians in the third period, getting his first action of his debut international tournament. The teenager was soon beaten by another 19-year-old as Simchuk got his second of the night. Vadym Mazur rifled home number seven before a power play goal for Fadyeyev completed the rout in the final minute.