The New Zealand Under 20 Men’s team secured a silver medal at their 2024 IIHF Division 3A World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Starting off their tournament journey against the highest seed Israel, the team would unfortunately lose their first matchup 8-6 after a hard fought back and forth game, but head coach Justin Daigle said the team used this loss as motivation for their remaining games.
“Playing a condensed schedule and managing energy levels was tough, but the team remained focussed on each game as it was played, and this paid off well for us“ said Justin.
The Kiwis proceeded to win all four of their remaining games, the most exciting against the host nation Bulgaria, which went to overtime.
Israel vs. New Zealand – 8:6 loss
New Zealand vs. Kyrgzstan – 12:1 win
Mexico vs. New Zealand – 3:5 win
New Zealand vs. Bulgaria – 4:3 win
Turkey vs. New Zealand – 2:4 win
Head Coach, Justin Daigle, said that winning the silver medal was an amazing achivement “I am thrilled for the boys and beyond proud of the effort they put in. A huge thank you is due to the amazing team staff who helped make this achievement possible”.
With just a handful of Kiwi supporters in the stands at the games – family members who travelled with the team to watch – it was the messages of support from back home in New Zealand that kept the team going.
“A massive thank you to all of the family, friends and supporters back home who kept up to date with our progress at the tournament, there are countless people who contributed to getting each of the boys and staff members to where we are today, and we are extremely grateful for their support” said Justin.
New Zealand players were well represented at the tournament’s prizegiving, with #13 Ivan Dalmatau finishing as the second ranked scoring leader with 13 points (7 goals, 6 assists), #19 Jackson Fontaine the second ranked goal scorer (8 goals).
The silver medal for the Under 20 Men’s team follows a gold medal by the Under 18 Women’s team earlier in January. The New Zealand Under 18 Men’s team play their World Championship tournament in Turkey in March, followed by the Ice Fernz and Ice Blacks in April.