Click here and here for parts one and two, respectively, where we had a look at Division III and Division II B.
As I mentioned in Part Two of the mega-post, Division II is sliced into group A and B. Group A is the upper tier of the division, and represents the fourth tier of the IIHF tournament. This year's edition was hosted in beautiful Belgrade, Serbia, from April 9th to April 15th. Here are the standings:
|All charts courtesy of Wikipedia.|
Estonia dominated this division, going 5-0 and only giving up 8 goals in five games. They were last year's losing team in Division I B and sank into the lower tier. It's a recurring trend for relegated teams to bounce between divisions until they can improve just enough to hold on to a slot in the division. Host Serbia improved on its fifth place finish last year, finishing 3rd. Israel just misses holding on to a spot in the division, losing a 4-3 decision in overtime to Belgium as well as a 4-3 contest to Iceland in a shootout. The 16-3 thumping to Estonia didn't help matters, and now Israel will have to claw its way back up into a division group that had four teams finish within three points of one another.
Here are the tournament's top scorers:
And the top goaltenders:
Directorate selected all-stars were Estonia's Robert Rooba for forward, Iceland's Ingvar Thor Jönsson for defenseman, and Serbia's Arsenije Ranković for goaltender. Yes, that guy's middle name is Thor. Iceland's players always have the best names. Remember Gunnar Stahl from D2: The Mighty Ducks?
This tournament finally featured players that were possible to find in European leagues across the continent. Rooba's an SM-liiga player for the Espoo Blues, and this season had four points in 36 games. Eliezer Sherbatov is an Israeli hockey player who had notable time with The Montreal Junior Hockey Club from 2009 to 2011, later with with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. He's currently trying out for teams in France. Oren Eizenman is an Israeli-Canadian centre who had two brothers who played hockey as well, but he most recently played in the Asia League with the Nippon Paper Cranes before playing for Israel last year and this year in the IIHF tournament. He had a cup of coffee in the AHL with the Syracuse Crunch and Connecticut Whale in 2010-11, but never got a whiff of the NHL. The year before hit pit stop in the AHL he scored 19 points in 15 games with the Stockton Thunder of the ECHL. If you like weird random facts about hockey players, Oren's father, Brett, helped to found the Israel Baseball League. Hey, I thought it was cool.
Next up for this mega-series is Division I A and finally we see some NHLers in the lower tiers of the tournament. Stay tuned for the inevitable Dainius Zubrus love-fest. Go Lithuania!