Unbeaten Israel wins gold
by Ameeta VOHRA|28 JAN 2024
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation
Motivated from a second-place finish last year, Israel finished with a perfect record to win gold at 2024 IIHF U20 World Championship Division III, Group A in Sofia, Bulgaria.
The championship has promoted Israel to Division II, Group B.
In their final game of the tournament, Israel defeated Mexico 6-3. Guy Aharonovich led the team by scoring a pair of goals 26 seconds apart in late in the third period.
Throughout the tournament, Israel showed their offensive prowess as the team scored 41 goals. They only allowed their opponents 14 goals.  
Multiple players found the net throughout the tournament.  Mike Levin scored a pair of goals, including a short hander in the second period in their win against New Zealand.  The player scored his first hat trick against host Bulgaria. Against Kyrgyzstan, Levin tallied his second hat trick of the tournament while Itay Bondar and Nikita Zitserman each scored a pair of goals.  Zitserman had another two goal game against Turkey.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation
Mike Levin was the tournament scoring leader with nine goals and eight assists for 17 points.  New Zealand’s Ivan Dalamatau was second with seven goals and six assists for 13 points while Levin’s teammate Yann Raskin tallied four goals and nine assists for 13 points.
New Zealand finished second in the overall standings with a 3-1-0-1 record.  The team kept pace during their Day 1 game against Israel tied 3-3 until their opponents ran away with the lead midway in the second period.  The highlight was Jacob Carey earning a hat trick in the game. During their second game against Kyrgyzstan, Dalmatau scored four goals, including three on the power play while Jackson Fontaine netted a hat trick.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation
In the only overtime game of the tournament, Caleb Chamberlin scored 1:21 into the extra frame to secure the win over Bulgaria. In their final game of the tournament, the highlight was Fontaine scoring back-to-back goals 56 seconds apart in the final minutes.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation
Host Bulgaria ended up third in the tournament with a 3-0-1-1 mark.  In their opening game against Mexico, Aleksandar Kozhuharov tallied a hat trick, including the game winner with 2:01 left in regulation and a penalty shot marker. In their second game against Israel goaltender Andrea Karabadakov faced 66 shots on goal. In an exciting game against Turkey, Aleksandar Stanimirov netted the game winner with 3:44 left in regulation and also racked up three assists.
The hosts finished the tournament with a decisive 8-2 victory over Kyrgyzstan, led by a pair of goals from Stanimirov and Sultan Ismanov.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation
Turkey finished fourth with a 2-0-0-3 record.  During their second game against Mexico, Zafer Serik scored the game-winner on the power play.
Serik also tallied a pair of goals in the second period of their game against Bulgaria. In their loss against Israel, goaltender Furkan Duran faced 54 shots on goal.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation
Mexico ended up fifth in the standings with a 1-0-0-4 mark.  In their only win of the tournament, Alexander Valencia scored a goal and added a pair of assists. Luis Valencia tallied a goal and an assist. In their final game against Israel, goaltender Santiago Cucuraqui faced 43 shots on goals and Luis Valencia scored a shorthanded goal in the second period.
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation
Kyrgyzstan finished the tournament winless against their opponents.  Despite the result, the team left the tournament with a couple of highlights. Those included Belek Maksatbekov’s power play goal in the second period of their game against Turkey and goaltender Emir Bolsunbekov facing 41 shots in their game against New Zealand.