To no one’s surprise, Kazakhstan will be headed back to the elite division of the World Championships. This time, however, it won’t be with Italy.

After years of joining Kazakhstan in the never-ending relegation cycle, Italy will stick in Division IA for another year after failing to grab a medal in 2015. Instead, Hungary will make their first appearance at the top event since 2009 after finishing off Poland in game five of the DIA tournament this week, putting them behind Kazakhstan in second place.

Kazakhstan’s tournament success was dominant from start to finish. National team stars Roman Starchenko, Kevin Dallman, Konstantin Rudenko and Vadim Krasnoslobostev all found themselves in the top five in scoring at the end of the tournament, while goaltender Pavel Poluektov was consistently one of the best goaltenders in the event.

For Hungary, the road wasn’t as easy. Heading into the final game against Poland with three wins, the team  was forced to get at least one point against the Polish team to secure a spot. With five minutes left, Poland pulled their goalie in an attempt to get the two goals they needed to overthrow the Hungarian lead, but a Bence Sziranyi empty netter in the dying seconds helped seal the deal for the favoured team heading in.

With the conclusion of the tournament, Kazakhstan and Hungary will travel to Russia next year for the top division of the World Championships. On the flip side, Ukraine, the original hosts of the DIA tournament before conflict in the country forced them to relinquish hosting duties, will be replaced by South Korea in the 2016 DIA event. Ukraine managed to win the only ever time they particiapted in Gorup B, taking the gold back in 2013.

Poland managed to take the bronze medal, taking the tie breaker against the Japanese in the end. For Italy, the team finished in fifth place or 21st overall, just two positions better than their all-time low of 23rd back in 2003.

Follow me on twitter, @StevenEllisNHL.

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