WM18 1B: Lithuania Stuns France On Day One
by Henrik MANNINEN|15 APR 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Catherine Kõrtsmik
Lithuania, Italy and Korea got off to winning starts on Day 1 of the 2024 Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, Division 1B, in Tallinn, Estonia.
Next up on Monday, Italy will face Lithuania, France plays Korea and Slovenia takes on hosts Estonia.

Lithuania 3 - France 1

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Catherine Kõrtsmik
In the match-up between the group´s two newcomers, a brace by Danielius Cecekovas and 39 saves by Daniil Cepov earned newly promoted Lithuania a memorable victory.
Following a goalless first 20 minutes, Lithuania broke the deadlock early in the second frame when Mykolas Skadauskas latched on to a pass by Algirdas Jaras. Deking Maurice Zwikel at the left face off circle, the 16-year-old Skadauskas then cooly dispatched the puck through the pads of Guillaume Schoch at 21:36.
Disciplined in defence and lethal on their quick breakaways, the Baltic newcomers doubled their lead mid-way through the final frame when Sarunas Baltrunas from the right boards found Cecekovas with a pin-pointed pass racing towards the net to convert 2-0 for Lithuania at 49:55.
France who had come down from Division 1A failed to come into their stride in a disappointing opener. Despite winning the shots 19-6 in the final frame and playing long spells on the powerplay they failed to break down the Lithuanian rearguard until ten seconds before the end.
Netminder Schoch had been lifted from France´s net and playing 6-on-3, Robin Guidoux had first pinged one off the post before Nathan Rue pulled a goal back for 1-2 at 59:50. three seconds from the final buzzer, Cecekovas scored an empty netter for a fine 3-1 win.

Estonia 0 - Italy 4

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Catherine Kõrtsmik
Carlo Giordani enjoyed a shutout and four different scorers tallied in Italy´s opening-day win.
Backed by a vocal home crowd of 2287 inside Tondiraba Ice Hall, Estonia started brightly aided by two consecutive power-plays.
Then against the run of play, Italy drew first blood to silence the home crowd at 16:42.  Eelis Yrjanainen had initially slipped and lost possession of the puck in the right corner of Estonia´s defensive zone. Italy´s Mark Osanna picked up the loose puck and found Giacomo Marcazzan in front of the Estonian net to backhand home Italy´s opener.
Just 64 seconds later with the Italians on the powerplay, they put their second on the board. Estonia´s David Timofejev sat out a charging minor as Alex Venturi got two attempts to stab the puck in the net past debutant netminder Daniel Nefedov.
Estonia´s uphill struggle got even worse at the start of the second frame. Arseni Koltsov had hooked Jacopo de Luca when through on the Estonia´s net. De Luca stepped up to cooly convert the ensuing penalty shot to stretch Italy´s lead to three after 21:54.
With only four returnees from last year´s bronze-winning Italian U18 team, one of its many debutants, 16-year-old Osanna rounded off the scoring with a late empty netter with 68 seconds left of the game.

Korea 5 - Slovenia 3

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Catherine Kõrtsmik
Mookyung Kang´s four-point night lifts Korea to victory in an evenly matched contest sparking into life in the third period.
Kang enjoyed 2+2 while his teammate Junsu Kwak tallied 2+1 as Donghwan Kim´s coached team started with a win in Tallinn.
After two periods, Korea held a slender 2-1 lead after Kang and Kwak scored a goal each for Korea. Ian Petronijevic Lepsa then reacted quickest to net a rebound to get Slovenia on the scoreboard.
In a pulsating final frame, Korea raced clear once again. Maj Tursic Seckar was sitting out a cross-checking minor, when Kwak netted on the powerplay at 40:50. Three minutes later the Koreans were 4-1 up when Kang boomed home a slapper at 43:52.
But the Slovenians didn´t let their heads drop. Unmarked in the slot Zan Spari Leben latched on to a Tursic Seckar pass to cut the deficit to two at 45:22. Just over two minutes later, Slovenia scored again with Timotej Filipic Dzafic netting from the top of the right face off circle.
With time running out, Slovenia pulled netminder Bor Glavic to add a sixth skater. Minuk Jung then snapped up the puck to score an empty netter with 25 seconds left of the game.