The U18 Irish National Team plays South Africa today in their first game at the 2011 IIHF World U18 Championship Division III Group B. The game faces off at 4:00 pm local time which is 10:00 pm Irish Time.
Ireland have played South Africa several times at the Senior level but this will only be the second time that the two countries meet each other in the U18 category. They first played each other last year at the 2010 IIHF World U18 Championship Division III Group B in Monterrey, Mexico. Unfortunately, South Africa came out victors by a score of 7 – 2.
That defeat was despite Ireland leading for the first fifteen minutes through a Brenden Saunders’ goal. The second period proved to be the ultimate downfall in that game as South Africa scored three unanswered goals which Ireland were unable to come back from. Head Coach Kenny Redmond will be hoping that Ireland will again get an early goal but this time, he’ll be doing all he can to keep the team focused on maintaining a lead should they take it.
Christopher (James) Devine will surely get the starting position between the pipes as he has the experience of last year’s tournament behind him and he has been looking extremely sharp in recent weeks. Devine along with Jonathan Stewardson and Rian Larkin are the only survivors from last year’s team. They will be relied upon to show great leadership and set an example to the younger players on the team.
Larkin, who has been named the Captain of the team this year, will be one of the main players of the tournament. He’s been looking very sharp and focused in recent weeks as he dominated much of the team’s exhibition games against the Women’s Irish National Team and the Belfast Junior Giants. Larkin and Stewardson have proven to be a lethal combination on the first line and expect them to make some noise this week!
This will be an interesting game as Ireland will be looking to make a positive start to the tournament. The team will also be looking to seek some revenge for last year’s defeat while some of the players will be eager to make their mark in an Irish jersey! South Africa on the other hand will want to get a win and show everyone that they are not just in Mexico to make up the numbers.
Ireland v South Africa can be watched live tonight on Terra TV as can all games of the 2011 IIHF World U18 Championship Division III Group B.
A live stream is being provided on http://www.terra.mx/mundialdehockey with Ireland’s game against South Africa tonight kicking things off!
GOOD LUCK LADS!!!