The New Zealand Under 18 Men’s team have won gold at the 2023 IIHF Division 3, Group B event in Cape Town, South Africa.
Sitting second on the table going in to their last game, they needed Thailand to beat Hong Kong, and the Kiwis would then need to beat South Africa with a large enough goal difference to clinch the gold.
Thailand beat Hong Kong 5-4 in a thrilling afternoon game, leaving it all on the New Zealanders to bring the gold medal home in the evening.
The Kiwis took to the ice against South Africa and secured a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period. Three further goals in the second period would see them hold the lead at 4-1 going in to the third and tournament deciding period. A thrilling third period would see the Kiwis add three further goals to their total, ending the game 7-1 and winning the gold medal.
Head Coach A.J. Spiller said that the result was a fantastic achievement, and one that demonstrated the team’s hard work and determination. “After many years of tournaments cancelled due to COVID-19, this is the first time this team has played together at a World Championship. The players have been hard at work, turning up to regional camps, working on their fitness and understanding what it means to be a team player, and I couldn’t be more proud of them and this achievement”.
NZIHF President Andy Mills added that this is a momentous occasion for the team and the NZIHF, winning the first gold for New Zealand since 2018, which was also awarded to the Under 18 Men’s team.
Mills congratulated the team “a gold medal at a World Championship event is something these players will remember for the rest of their lives. We are so very proud of them and this achievement, something they truly deserve after putting in countless hours of training in the lead up to this event. This result bodes well for continuing the development model the NZIHF has been implementing over the last several years and I’m sure we’ll see these players representing New Zealand on the world stage again.”
The gold medal is New Zealand’s first for 2023, with a bronze medal awarded to our Senior Women’s team in February. The Senior Men’s team will compete in Istanbul, Turkey in April.