On a sunny Saturday in Croatia last weekend, Ireland took to the ice at Dom Sportova in Zagreb to faceoff against Iceland in Ireland’s last game of the IIHF 2011 World Championships Division II Group B.
It had been a tough week for the Boys in Green having suffered defeats, but pride was still in the team and a buzz was around the camp, having netted four goals past host Croatia the previous night. The home crowd encouraged the green machine chanting and cheering as the rink DJ played the famous ‘Irish Rover’.
But tonight it was Iceland- and the future looks bright for the Iceland squad as the Ireland U18’s national team took on Iceland U18’s in March during the IIHF U18’s World Championship Division 3 in Mexico where Iceland earned promotion to next years Division 2.
This proved to be a tough game for Ireland as the speed and fitness of Iceland took control of game. Adam Pepper stood between the Irish net for the first period and faced 21 shots in the opening twenty minutes. Iceland dominated the period and came out with a 6-0 lead at the first interval.
Ireland took a number of penalties in the second, a factor that has hammered the Irish team throughout the years. Coach Tibbetts placed Kevin Kelly in front of the busy green net for this period. The Irish outfit was unable to get possession of the puck often and had two shots on the net in the second as Iceland netted another five goals with the Irish seeing a lot of the penalty box.
The Irish bowed out of the game on a higher note in the final period but unfortunately any shots on goal was unable to go past the red line of the Iceland net. Iceland found it much more difficult to pressure the Irish net as the green defence put in a better performance, with Iceland netting two powerplay goals and one equal goal.
The final buzzer of the game sounded the conclusion on Irelands 2011 Worldchampionship tournament. Ireland’s player of the tournament award was given to captain Mark Morrison – That’s another trophy for the Mo train.
It was a tough tournament, no doubt about that. The closure of the rink in Dundalk and the limited amount of ice time available to the team prior to the tournament had affected the team seriously and it was evident.
Relegation for Ireland means its Division III next year for the Boys in Green after a long hard week in Croatia. But everyone is proud of the Green machines effort and dedication.
More articles to come…