Ireland played its second game in Erzurum on Tuesday afternoon. They were playing Iceland and it was another tough game. Iceland were runway victors with a final score of 19-0. Iceland is a strong hockey nation in all age categories, both Men and Women. Last year, Iceland was unlucky not to be promoted to Division II. A 4 – 0 loss to eventual winners Serbia saw to that. On Tuesday, Ireland came up against a country it should aspire to be like a few years down its development.
Scott Bickerstaff started in between the pipes for Ireland. However, it wasn’t a great start for the team as they found themselves down two players less than a minute into the game. Jack Murphie and Niall McEvoy went to the penalty box for high sticking and delaying the game. This allowed Iceland to go up a goal with only 1:40 played. However, they too found themselves penalised a minute later. Unfortunately, Ireland was unable to capitalise on the powerplay opportunity. Iceland built on this and they took the game back to Ireland. They scored and even strength goal with 5:24 played. This was followed by another powerplay goal before three even strength goals in the space of three minutes. These goals made it 6 – 0 and Adam Pepper came on to give Bickerstaff a breather. Iceland was able to add another power play goal two minutes before the intermission. The score was 7 – 0 after the 1st Period and Ireland were up against the wall having been outshot 28 – 1.
The 2nd Period was the same again with Iceland’s speed, strength and skill proving too much for Ireland. Despite going down a man with less than two minutes played, Iceland found themselves up by another goal with 22:53 played. Again, Ireland found themselves in some penalty trouble. Niall McEvoy and Stephen Balmer heading to the box for boarding and kneeing, respectively. Before the end of the 2nd Period, Iceland were able to add 3 even strength goals to make it 12 – 0. Slightly better than the 1st Period but Ireland were still outshot 33 – 3. Adam Pepper played the period and put in an impressive performance making 28 saves. Even though the 3rd Period on Monday was Ireland’s strongest, Iceland did not let up at all. They played full tilt right up to the end scoring a further seven goals to make it 19 – 0 after sixty minutes of action. These seven goals included one shorthanded goal, three powerplay goals and three even strength goals. Again, Ireland were outshot 26 – 2.
Another tough game for Ireland but this young team can hold their heads very high. Iceland has defeated every other Team Ireland it has faced. They are a solid hockey nation and they have a wealth of experience in international competition. However, the encouraging aspect is that again reports suggest that the Irish players never gave up. They played right to the end and wore their jerseys with pride. Next it’s Bulgaria on Thursday.
Special congratulations go to Rían Larkin who was selected as Ireland’s best player. He put in a great effort and was a minus four on the game while not being penalised once.
Final Score: Iceland 19 – 0 Ireland (7 – 0, 5 – 0, 7 – 0)
SOG: 87 – 6 (28 – 1, 33 – 3, 26 – 2)
PIM: 20 – 28 (4 – 12, 8 – 8, 8 – 8)
Saves: A. Bjornsson (3/3), S. Sigurbergsson (3/3) – S. Bickerstaff (60/73), A Pepper (8/14)
Photograph courtesy of www.derektuitephotography.ie