Game 13: CRO-ROU / Photo: Sarunas Mazeika
Sweeps Croatia aside to beat drop
A Romanian goal-spree downed Croatia 7-3 in the battle against relegation to stay in the Division I Group B. Croatia takes the step down to Division IIA.
Romania finally found the goal with ease when it mattered the most. Csanad Fodor and Daniel Tranca both tallied 1+3. At the other end, Patrik Polc recorded 40 saves as his displays in his first World Championship played a crucial role in Romania's survival.
Romania's final day 7-3 win at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division 1 Group B in Kaunas is their first at this level since 2013. Their last two previous appearances in division 1B in 2014 and 2016 both ended with straight relegation.
"We faced some adversity throughout the tournament as we have played with a short line up. We really needed this win today, and having gained a point in Japan in the previous game us a big boost going into this game," said Romania's captain Roberto Gliga.
Croatia who has played five consecutive years in Division 1B will next year take a step down to Division 2A. David Brine scored a brace for Croatia while Vito Nikolic made his World Championship debut in net with 16:24 left of the contest.
Romania who needed a regulation time win to ensure survival got off to a flying start 5:25 into the game. Fodor instigated the moved before Tranca picked out Molnar at the far post who slipped in a backhand past Mate Tomljenovic.
The same line was at it at again after 11:31. 2-0 arrived following Fodor's feed from behind Tomljenovic's cage found an on-rushing Tranca who calmly slotted the puck into Croatia's net.
Romania stretched their lead to three unanswered goals courtesy of a fine breakaway goal. 20-year-old Tamas Reszegh flew down the left wing, picked out Fodor cross-ice who boomed home a one-timer at 27:39.
Croatia got a golden chance to claw their way into the game as Romania get into penalty trouble. Romania's blueline duo Catalin-Adrian Berdila and Tihamer Gyorfy both got hooking minors as Croatia stepped up the pressure on a 5-on-3. Failing to capitalize Croatia got another chance soon after with Romania's Tranca serving a cross-checking call, but it as to be all in vain.
"We had some chances to score early in the game, couldn't score and our powerplay wasn't working so it was a tough afternoon and every time we gave away a two-on-one they scored," said Croatia head coach Enio Sacilotto.
Buoyed by managing to keep the puck of their net, Romania surged forward as Tranca, Molnar and Gliga linked up for Romania's fourth on the afternoon. Domen Vedlin replied for Croatia's first of the afternoon with 2:39 left of the frame to cut the deficit to 4-1. Soon after, Borna Rendulic went clear with Polc, but failed to score during a dour afternoon for Croatia in Zalgiris Arena.
While on powerplay Hugo Gecse shot from the blueline saw Tomljenovic leave a rebound, Gergo Biro reacted quickest for Romania's fifth. When Balazs Peter outmuscled the Croatian defence to pick out Zsolt Peter to hit home 6-1 for Romania the game was effectively over.
Tomljenovic was replaced by 20-year-old debutant Nikolic and while Brine pulled on back for Croatia with 8:31 left, Tamas Reszegh still had time to score Romania's seventh of the afternoon, before Brine scored his second to close the scoring on a 5-on-3.