Mexico’s Division III World Junior effort on home ice proved to be very successful on Sunday, beating out a weak South African team 9-2 to earn promotion for the 2017 Division IIB U20 tournament next year.
Mexico, who have slowly, yet surely, improved their hockey program over the past few years, have now won three gold medals at the Division III tournament, coming at home every single time. Mexico had the tournament in hand heading into the final day thanks to a 3-0 victory over Bulgaria, who finished the tournament off in second place with 12 points.
Mexico has spent time trying to improve their junior hockey program, sending a U17 team to the most recent Pan-American Ice Hockey Games in Mexico. The country will also take part in the Division III Group A Under-18’s this March in Bulgaria, coming in as one of the stronger teams.
Mexico’s Under-20 team will replace China in next year’s Division IIB World Juniors, who finished without a win in the tournament in Serbia this past week.
Mexico did something that doesn’t typically happen with winning teams, and that’s not having a single scorer in the top ten at the conclusion of the week. Jaime Perez did do a good job of stealing the show in net, giving Mexico all five of their wins while finishing with the top goalie award thanks to a .920 GAA and 2.12 GAA.
The surprise of the tournament came courtesy of the Israeli junior team, who made headlines after a 17-0 victory over South Africa early in the tournament. Roey Aharonovich (18P in 6G), Ilya Spektor (16P in 6G) and Mark Revinaga (13P in 6G) led the way offensively in the tournament, taking the top three positions on the final scoring charts. Oliver Hay would end up getting the top forward, however after posting 13 points in six games, helping New Zealand to a bronze medal after losing out to Bulgaria in a tie-breaker for second.
South Africa struggled throughout the tournament, allowing 59 goals in six games while failing to get a point. Bringing a very young team with an average age of just 17.65, the country has only recorded seven wins in any U20 event since 2001 and continue to struggle to improve their program.
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