“It’s a once-in-a-lifetime feeling, it’s great!” said captain Yahel Sharon.
Israel started out a bit shaky with a narrow 3-1 win over Türkiye – after trailing 1-0 with 12 minutes to play – and a 3-2 loss to Mexico, but then reeled off three straight wins, outscoring their opponents 33-1.
“At first it felt a bit shaky,” said Sharon. “Our first game was definitely the hardest one. It started off 1-0 for them but, luckily, one of our defencemen (Nick Kreimerman) got our first goal and we got it together.”
Heading into the final game of the tournament, Iceland had a perfect record while Israel had lost once. All the host team needed was a single point, but Israel built a 2-0 lead in the first period and played solid defence the rest of the way. The two teams finished with 12 points each, with Israel getting top spot by virtue of winning the head-to-head match-up.
“It’s very important for Israeli hockey and the team at this age,” said head coach Evgeni Kovechnikov. “We had a really short preparation time. We had to find our lines during the tournament but the guys did an excellent job and we raised our level day to day. Never mind that we had some injuries and some players who had less ice time but they still stuck together and supported each other. That’s what we did.”
Had the Israelis lost the final game, they would have finished in a three-way tie for second place with Türkiye and Mexico, and would have finished second following tiebreakers. Therefore, regardless of the outcome of the final game, it was known that Türkiye would be third and Mexico fourth. Bosnia & Herzegovina finished fifth with three points, all coming from an opening-day 6-0 win over Luxembourg, who finished sixth.
Entering play on the final day, the Turkish team knew a regulation victory over Bosnia & Herzegovina would secure a medal and that was accomplished with a 2-0 win. The Turks outshot their opponents 50-21 but Bosnian goaltender Karim Ahmetovsky was brilliant, keeping his team within striking distance until a late goal by Efe Oztorun finally gave his team a bit of breathing room with the game’s second goal. As the final horn sounded, the Turkish players poured off the bench,…
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