WORLD JRS: Kazakhstan moves one step closer to Top Division return in Div I Group B tournament

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After falling short by one point to the Italians in the 2014 World Junior Hockey Championships’ Division I Group B tournament, Kazakhstan finally get its moment to savor victory in Dunaujvaros, Hungary for the 2015 edition of the tournament. Held from Dec, 14-20, the tournament would prove to be a nightmare for the host Hungarians.

The first day of competition opened with Japan taking a 3-2 victory over France in a shootout. Yushiroh Hirano scored the shootout winner in the third round, giving the Japanese the victory as Shun Furukawa stopped 36 shots and three shooters for the win. Victor Goy allowed three goals on 32 shots and went two-for-three in the shootout for the French. The second game of the day saw the host Hungarians take Poland to a scoreless shootout before finally taking home two points. Peter Vincze ended things in the sixth round with the shootout winner. Gergely Arany stopped all 18 shots he faced while Michael Luba stoped all 56 shots in 65 minutes of play, but was credited with an additional shot against due to the IIHF shootout format of awarding a goal to the shootout winner. The final game of Day 1 saw Kazahkstan down Ukraine 5-1. Kirill Savitski and Dmitri Presnov each scored twice for Kazakhstan while Yuri Volosenko stopped 14 of 15 shots for the win. Eduard Zakharchenko allowed five goals on 45 shots in defeat.

On Dec. 15, saw the second day of competition open with Ukraine picking up their first victory of the Tournament 2-1 over Poland. Igor Merezhko scored the winning goal while Zakharchenko stopped 42 of 43 for the victory. Luba allowed two goals on 39 shots in defeat. France followed that up by outlasting the host Hungarians 4-3 in regulation. Arnaud Faure would complete the French comeback as Goy stopped 36 of 39 shots for the victory. Daniel Kornakker allowed four goals on 32 shots in defeat. Kazakhstan rounded out Day 2 with a 6-3 victory over Japan. Arkadi Shestakov had three goals and an assist for Kazakhstan as Volosenko stopped 23 of 26 shots to pick up his second victory. Furukawa stopped 14 of 17 shots in 24:57 of play before being replaced by Atshushi Takase who allowed three goals on 18 shots the rest of the way.

The tournament saw an off day on Dec. 16 and resumed on Dec. 17 where Kazakhstan improved to 3-0 with a 3-1 win over France. Alikhan Asetov had the game-winner for Kazakhstan while Volosenko allowed a single goal on 39 shots for the victory. Raphael Garnier stopped 39 of 42 shots in defeat. In the second game of the day, Ukraine took a 4-3 shootout decision over the host Hungarians. Vladyslav Luhovy netted the shootout winner as Zakharchenko stopped 52 of 55 for the Ukrainian victory. Arany allowed four goals on 28 shots in defeat. The final game of the day saw Poland down Japan 5-3 after a wild third period that saw the lead change hands three times before Bartosz Fraszko scored on an empty net to seal the Polish victory with 48 seconds remaining. Luba made 42 saves in victory while Furukawa allowed four goals on 41 shots in defeat.

After playing in the late game on Dec. 17, Japan was back on the ice in the first game of Day 4, but were unable to overcome the Ukrainians, losing 3-1. Vitali Lyalka scored the eventual game-winner while Zakharchenko stoped 32 of 33 for the victory. Furukawa had 18 saves in the loss. Kazahkstan followed that up by downing the host Hungarians 3-1 in the second game of the day. Savitski netted the game-winner 7:34 into the third period as Volosenko stopped 31 of 32 shots improving Kazakhstan to 4-0 in the tournament. Kornakker allowed three goals on 37 shots in defeat. In the day’s final game, Poland managed to hold on to defeat France 4-3. Radoslaw Sawicki was credited with the winning goal as Luba stopped 27 of 30 shots faced for the victory. Goy allowed four goals on 33 shots in defeat.

Teams saw an off day in competition on Dec. 19 before the final day of competition took place on Dec. 20. Kazahkstan would complete its run of the table in the first game of the day, defeating Poland 6-3. Nikita Mikhailis netted a hat trick while Valeri Sevidov made his first appearance of the tournament stopping 27 of 30 shots in the victory. Luba allowed six goals on 53 shots in defeat. The second game of the day saw a battle to avoid relegation as Japan downed the host Hungarians 5-1 to send the host team down to Division II by a 5-1 score. Ryo Katsuragawa had a pair of goals for the Japanese as Furukawa allowed a single goal on 29 shots. Arany stopped 28 of 33 shots in the loss. The final game of the tournament saw France shut out Ukraine 1-0. Guillaume Leclerc had the lone goal of the game as Goy stopped all 30 shots faced in the win. Zakharchenko stopped 32 of 33 in defeat.

Kazakhstan will now advance to Division I Group A in the 2016 World Junior Hockey Championships where they will be one step away from their first appearance in the Top Division since the 2009 World Championship where they suffered relegation to Division I Group B under the old tournament format and remained until now. Hungary will play in Division II Group A next year.

FINAL STANDINGS
1. Kazakhstan – 5-0-0-0, 15 pts.
2. Ukraine – 2-1-0-2, 8 pts.
3. Poland  – 2-0-1-2, 7 pts.
4. France – 2-0-1-2, 7 pts.
5. Japan – 1-1-0-3, 5 pts.
6. Hungary – 0-1-1-3, 3 pts.

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