In their fifth and final game of the 2012 World Championships, Div. III, Team Ireland had the daunting task of defeating DPR Korea by 3 goals in order to secure the Bronze Medal. Although the North Koreans had a very strong record throughout the week and dominated most teams, they proved vulnerable when they lost to Turkey 4-2 on Thursday. Against Ireland, however, DPR Korea appeared to bring their ‘A’ game.
In the first period, the North Koreans capitalized on a power play and buried their first goal of the game at 6:19. Goal from Ju Hyok Kim, assisted by Captain Chol Min Ri. The Irish held off the North Koreans for most of the 1st until 18:21 of the game when Chol Min Ri scored to make it 2 nil, North Korea.
The second period was Ireland’s strongest. Scott Bickerstaff stopped all 12 shots on goal in this period. Unfortunately, however, our boys were unable to find the back of the net and this period also ended with the score remaining at 2 nil. The North Koreans took several penalties at the end of this period, and suddenly things were looking promising for the Irish. We had seen our lads score 8 goals versus Mongolia on Thursday. Would they be able to find some 3rd period magic and make a comeback?
Unfortunately, the fates had decided against us. Or perhaps it was a very inspiring speech by DPR Korea’s head coach Chang Dok Pak in between the 2nd and 3rd period. Whatever it was, the North Koreans came out flying in the 3rd period and scored 3 unanswered goals in less than ten minutes. The first came at 42:59 of the game. Goal from Sung Hyok Ju, assists from Myong Chol Kim and Pong Il Ri. Only a few minutes later North Korea scored their 4th goal at 45:26. This time from Alternate Captain Kwang Ho Kim, assists from Myong Chol Kim and Pong Il Ri. To make matters even tougher for the Irish (remember we needed to win by 3 goals for the Bronze!) the North Koreans hammered home their 5th and final goal of the game a short time later at 46:35. This 5th goal came from Chun Rim Hong, assists from Sung Chol Om and Song Jin Pak. The game ended with the score of 5 for DPR Korea, 0 for Ireland.
The North Koreans had gotten the job done, formidably. Many had favored them to win the entire tournament so perhaps taking Silver (Turkey took home Gold, Luxembourg Bronze) was a bitter pill to swallow! Either way, they played fast, strong hockey against our lads, outshooting us 46-10. Scott Bickerstaff should be commended for his 41-save performance. Man of the Match for Ireland went to Christopher Adams. Well done Chris!
Although players and fans alike may have been disappointed the team didn’t bring home any silverware from Erzurum, we all can agree that a 4th place finish is nothing to turn one’s nose up at. After 2 straight seasons without an ice rink and very limited ice and game-time for our players, we are extremely proud and impressed that Team Ireland did so well. With their 4th place finish they saved themselves from having to play in a qualifier next year. This, in itself, is a great accomplishment and something to build off of.
The entire team, coaching staff and management should give themselves a pat on the back for what they have accomplished. Of course anyone that followed this week’s tournament would have noticed Ireland’s star forward Gareth Roberts. Gareth was selected as the Best Player for Ireland by the coaches of all of the teams. In addition, he was also selected as the Best Forward of the entire tournament by the Directorate. This is an absolutely outstanding accomplishment for Gareth, but of course is really no surprise! He was a huge part of Ireland’s success this week. Congrats Gareth!
Hopefully coming very close to a medal will be the drive our Senior Men’s National Team needs to keep going and to continue to build on the successes and victories of this year. It is clear that with the leadership we have from Coach Kenneth Redmond, GM Jim Pepper, Captains Stevie Hamill, Dean Kelly & and Gareth Martin, that the future of this team is very bright. In addition, we have some very young talent coming up in the ranks, most notably two young goalies in Adam Pepper and Scott Bickerstaff, who are sure to emerge as big stars in the near future! This group has shown us some real flashes of brilliance this week, and we cannot wait to see it again next season!
Many thanks to Kenny, Jim and the entire squad for a brilliant week! The end of the Championship Season is always bittersweet. So, we leave you with a very special quote from Theodore Roosevelt, to silence all the critics:
”It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat”