WM18 1B: Host Estonia Claims First Win on Day Three
by Henrik MANNINEN|18 APR 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Catherine Kortsmik
Estonia got their first points on the board edging France on Day 3 of the IIHF 2024 Ice Hockey U18 World Championship, Division 1B, in Tallinn, Estonia.

Slovenia earned a second straight victory, while Lithuania staged a monumental fightback to down Korea and remain undefeated.

Following a well-deserved breather, the teams are back in action on Thursday. Italy will then take on neighbours France, Slovenia tangles with Lithuania in a top-of-the-table clash, and Estonia will face Korea.

Lithuania 5 - Korea 2

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Catherine Kortsmik
Lithuania roared back from being two goals down to score five unanswered goals. Simas Ignatavicius scored a hat-trick plus an assist as Lithuania remains top of the standings as the only undefeated team.

The turning point in this high-octane encounter came with 7:26 remaining in the third period. With the game tied at 2-2 Korea´s netminder Sangwoo Park got himself thrown out for roughing. It proved to be out to be a costly misconduct penalty for the Koreans. Taeyi Koh replaced Park and on the ensuing five minute powerplay Lithuania capitalized twice with Ignatavicius potting both goals in just 71 seconds.  
Winning the shots 13-1 in the final period, blueliner Daniil Kovalenko rounded off the scoring with his 5-2 goal with 4:09 left of the game to complete a remarkable recovery.

Earlier in the game, Korea had raced into a two-goal lead. Mookyung Kang first tallied Korea´s opener and his third of the tournament finishing a flying move with 68 seconds left of the first frame. Korea then netted a morale-boosting early middle frame goal as defender Eunchan Soh struck from the point through heavy traffic at 21:44 for 2-0.

But the Lithuanians were not beaten yet. Not by a long chalk. Six skaters on the Lithuanian roster currently hone their skills in the Swiss junior leagues. Two of those, Dovydas Jukna and Ignatavicius combined with the latter netted from the slot to net Lithuania´s first goal at 34:35.

A third Switzerland-based player, Tadas Slizys then tallied the equalizing marker at 50:14 when Korea´s netminder Park had lost his stick and had visible problems with a pad as the game tilted into Lithuania´s favour.

Slovenia 4 - Italy 3

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Catherine Kortsmik
Special play proved decisive as Slovenia recorded their second consecutive win in Tallinn. In the clash between the two neighbours, the Slovenians got in command early and never relinquished their lead.

Eleven members on the current Slovenian roster had already played their part on last year´s silver winning team. Two of those returnees set the tone for Slovenia during the first period. Andrea Gesumaria was sitting out a slashing minor when Jan Golicic cruised into Italy´s defensive zone to net the opening goal from the left face off circle after 8:57.

The Slovenians went two up just 61 seconds later. Once again working on a one-man advantage, Nik Christian Petrovic unleashed a wrister from the right face off circle past Carlo Giordani in the Italian net.

Last year´s bronze medalists Italy got on the board at 26:27, as 16-year-old Jacopo de Luca scored his second goal of the tournament converting a clever low tip assisted by Elia Carissimi from the point.

But the hawkish Slovenians once again regained a two-goal advantage. Dumping the puck into Italy´s end and winning the battles along the boards, Matic Percic picked out Gal Sodja Zalokar for 3-1 just after the midway mark of the game. Slovenia augmented their lead with their third power-play goal of the game. Swiftly moving the puck they stretched the Italian defence as Petrovic fed Aljaz Hrobat Plemelj to hit home 4-1 at 36:05.

Tobias Chizzali pulled a goal back for Italy with 4:45 left. Netminder Giordani was then pulled as Stefano Piechenstein added a consolation with 1:37, but that was as close as Italy got as Slovenia withstood any further attacks.

France 3 - Estonia 4

photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation / Catherine Kortsmik
Roland Luht has enjoyed an eventful season in the blue, black, and white colours of Estonia this season. Having already skated for both the men´s national team and the U20s, the blueliner now became the unlikely hero for the U18 crop scoring the 4-3 winner versus France.

In a hard-fought team victory, David Timofejev potted a double for Estonia. At the other end, netminder Daniel Nefedov enjoyed a solid second start in the tournament blocking 25 shots.

Estonia went into the game against France on Day 3 as the odd one out in the group with zero points.

For the second game in a row, the hosts went on the board first when Artjom Masljonov´s effort from the right boards sneaked in past Guillaume Schoch at 6:11.

But France both equalized and went ahead with two power-play goals. The youngest player on their roster, 15-year-old Alexandre Monarque first tied the game before Mathis Dufour ripped a wrister from the right face off circle past Nefedov.

But while Estonia had faded out in their previous two games, this time around they rose to the occasion. Timofejev, equipped with a cannon of a shot, equalized ten seconds before the first intermission.

France once again went ahead 3-2 when Antonin Fine raked in a rebound from Paulin Hostein´s shot from the point at 22:02. But the hosts were not brushed aside easily as Maksim Burkov served Timofejev on a plate for his second of the game at 36:47.

Luht then buried the only goal of the final stanza 11:11 from the end. France pulled Schoch from the net with 64 seconds left, but Estonia held out to get their hands on three valuable points.