Ireland won their opening game in the 2010 IIHF World Championship Division III A against host nation Luxembourg 6-4 in a tense affair.
In a strongly contested opening period both squads were strongly tipped to lift the Gold Medal. They tested each other’s nerves and their respective puck stoppers to the ultimate, however it was the Irish who scored first.
One minute into the second period Mark Morrison opened the scoring putting the Irish into the lead, which they never lost. Two minutes later Mark scored his second of the night on the powerplay and Team Ireland were now full of confidence.
Gareth Roberts made it 3-0 on another powerplay effort with Steven Ewen making 4-0 with the teams both at equal strength. Someone then woke up their opponents, Luxemburg who came roaring back into the game.
Robert Beran scored the first host goal on a powerplay however Gareth Roberts netted his second of the night restoring Irelands four-goal cushion.
Sean Dooley made it 6-1 early in the third period when Luxemburg Coach Joakim Eriksson changed his goalie replacing Michel Welter for Patrick Lepage, which seemed to give the host nation the confidence they needed.
Benny Welter made it 6-2 followed by strikes from Kai Linster and Francois Schons however the damage was done in the second period in a five goal barrage which saw the Irish through.
Gareth Roberts scored the winning goal and a great all round team effort saw Team Ireland get their first win en route to a possible Gold Medal performance.
But ‘don’t count your chickens before they hatch’…
UAE and Greece are yet to be conquered and are still the dark horses in this 2010 IIHF World Championship Division III A contest.
Talking after the game Irish Coach Jim Tibbetts stated, “ The Irish community in Luxemburg did us proud supporting our boys in a full home atmosphere against the host nation and their fans. They definitely played their part in our victory.
Team Ireland’s “ Man of the Match” Mark Morrison, and Gareth Robert’s brace of scores each along with Steven Ewen’s goal were decisive in the second period but for me holding the host team to a scoreless first period was a huge boost.
We played as a unit and won it whilst killing off penalties in a tough game where we played short handed for large parts of each period. That is one in the bag with two more to follow.
Now we have to keep focused no matter who or where the opposition comes from to be successful in this tournament. Sure we are all confident but we need to take each game one at a time as they all have to be won to be successful,” concluded Tibbetts
Team Ireland next face Greece today at 4.30 pm local time (3:30 pm Irish Time) followed by UAE on Saturday afternoon.
Final Score: Ireland 6 – 3 Luxembourg (0 – 0, 5 – 1, 1 – 3)
SOG: 30 – 37 (11 – 7, 8 – 9, 14 – 8)
PIM: 47 – 38 (12 – 6, 31 – 14, 4 – 18)
Goals: (21:10 – M. Morrison), (22:44 – M. Morrison), (26:09 – G. Roberts, G. Martin), (26:58 – S. Ewen, G. Roberts, S. Adams), (38:10 – G. Roberts, D. Kelly), (43:09 – S. Dooley, T. O’Driscoll)
Saves: K. Kelly (33/37) – M. Welter (17/23), P. Lepage (7/7)
Ireland’s Man of the Match: Mark Morrison