On Friday last, Ireland took on host Croatia at the IIHF World Championship Division II Group B. The green lineup suffered defeats in the previous days in this tough tournament for the Irish.
But there was some good hockey on display throughout the game with good signs on display from the Boys in Green as they netted four goals past the top class Croatian goalie, including one shorthanded goal.
The home side scored the first goal nearly three minutes in when Ireland was in the sin bin for hooking. Croatia went on the score four more until Ireland scored a powerplay goal through David Morrison which was assisted by Sean Dooley and Gareth Roberts nearly fifteen minutes into the first. Croatia didn’t take long to wake up and netted two more before the buzzer sounded for the first interval in Zagreb.
Kevin Kelly was faced with 26 shots in the first period and he was in for another two twenty minutes in the second. The Croatian team came out all guns blazing and dominated most of the period. They netted six goals in the second, three which was equal and three which was scored through powerplays.
In the third period Ireland played some skilled hockey, but penalties and a better team in Croatia didn’t help the Irish. Dundalk lad Adam Pepper was placed in between the pipes for the last twenty minutes after putting on a very impressive performance in previous games.
Nearly three minutes into the third, Ireland scored a shorthanded goal as Gareth Roberts netted home with assists coming from David Morrison and Sean Dooley. The home side scored a further two until Sean Dooley shot past the Croatian net and scored a powerplay goal with Stephen Hamill and captain Mark Morrison being awarded the assists. Another two goals passed Peppers line and with less than four minutes remaining Mark Morrison scored Ireland’s last goal of the game which was assisted by young Jason McCrainor and Gareth Roberts.
It was tough game for the Irish with a final score line of 21-4 in favour of the gold medal contenders and host Croatia. Speaking from Croatia immediately after the game as IIHA President Mr. William Fay who told IIHA.org ‘I have to commend the home fans of Croatia, they were amazing and cheered for Ireland tonight even after our team scored and also at the end of the game which was very emotional for the Irish players and everyone watching tonight’s game. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Croatia on their win and wish them the very best for the reminder of the tournament’ said William.
‘I am very proud of every Irish player as President of the IIHA as they played with passion and determination in tonight’s game against Croatia while wearing the Irish jersey, William said, ‘Both sides played some great hockey and set plays, which was great to witness and resulted in some great goals from both sides. Congratulations have to go to Davy Morrison for scoring Ireland’s 1st goal in IIHF Div 2 and it was an honour for me to present him with the game puck that he put in the back of the Croatian net’.
William added ‘I’m honoured to be here in Croatia and witness some great hockey being played by all participating teams, the players of Ireland are wearing the Irish jersey’s with pride and doing Ireland proud on Croatian ice. I would also like to thank everyone back home for their support, it means a great deal to all the players to know people back home are behind them’.
*Apologies for late publishing of this article due to illness