Game 2: ROM - UKR / / Photo: Sarunas Mazeika
3-0 win in neighbouring clash
Newly relegated vs. newly promoted contest ends with convincing victory for promotion-chasing Ukraine.
A second period brace by Dmytro Nimenko and Nikita Butsenko lead the way for Ukraine as they get the 2018 World Championship Division I Group B in Kaunas off to a fine start with an opening day victory. Despite not having played much hockey played this season, Sergi Gaiduchenko showed little signs of rustiness in the Ukraine net celebrating a shutout and recording 39 saves.
"Every win in this tournament is important for us and we are happy for this start, but we have room to improve everything," said head coach Alexander Savitsky who is in his third season in charge of Ukraine.
Last time these two teams met at this level it was the opener at the 2016 World Championship Division I Group B in Zagreb. Romania then suffered a 6-1 loss and appears to be better equipped this time around upon their return to Division 1B.
"We outshot them so we are close. If we score a goal we are in this game, so this was a game we had the chance to win," said Romania's defenceman Otto Biro who is joined on the team by his two younger brothers, Gergo and Matyas.
Following a close first frame which saw an spirited Romania step out on the ice and win the shots 16-9, they still lacked that little bit of edge and bulk when it came to the crunch.
After Romania failed to capitalize on their chances in the powerplay in the second frame, Ukraine broke the deadlock. Charging forward with a free-flowing move from left to right, Butsenko picked out Nimenko centre who fed to onrushing Kyrylo Katrych whose blast took a deflection on Florin Creanga as it went past debutant netminder Patric Polc into the Romania net at 13:52.
Ukraine doubled their lead as Nimenko won a battle with Mircea Constantin in Romania's defensive right corner and then charged towards the net past Otto Biro to poke the puck just over the line after 28:55.
When the Romanian rearguard was caught sleeping, Nimenko picked out Butsenko for the treat of the afternoon as he deked Polc and backhanded home Ukraine's third unanswered goal of the afternoon with 79 seconds left of the second frame.
While Romania failed to give up as the third period wore on, Ukraine held out thanks to a stylish defensive disciplined display in final frame for a fine start of the tournament.
"We are not thinking too far ahead, but what we look forward to now is our game tomorrow againt Estonia," said Ukraine's head coach Savitsky.
Next up for Romania will be against hosts and one of the pre-tournament favourites Lithuania, a challenge in front of a big crowd they will be relishing.
"We have a younger team this year, with more energy than last time we were in this division, so we give our everything, said Romania's Otto Biro.