Baltic dominance
IIHF WC 2012 U18 Division IIA - Croatia - Lithuania 0-6 (6-4-2012)

Among the spectators a few people with a "Hravtska" (for Croatia) jersey. A contingent of about 25 fans from Lithuania have set up shop at the centre of the stand, with a great number of Lithuanian flags. And all fans wear Lithuanian national team jerseys and have coloured the national flag on their cheeks. A big round of appause from the Lithuanian fans when the referee trio steps unto the ice. Both teams depend on their second goaltender, Marko Perojevic is the starting goalie for Croatia, while Team Lithuania puts Simas Baltrunas between the pipes. Baltrunas getting his first action in the tournament.

Shortly after the opening face off Croatian forward Jan Novotny is caught hooking near the Lithuanina goal. So a first powerplay for the Baltics after only 1.17. And "Leituva" sets up shop in their offensive zone. Daniel Bogdziul cruises wirth the puck from behind the net into the slot and fires a shot at goal. Netminder Marko Perojevic makes a legguard save, but he doesn't see the puck just in front of his right skate. Ilja Cetvertak is the first to react and puts the puck home for 0-1 after 1.50. Perojevic denies Lithuanian forward Simonas Gorelis. But he has no answer to the solo effort by Danile Bogdziul, who easily scores 0-2 at 5.19. About a minute later Mantas Marcinkevicius feeds Dominykas Bisturys in the face off circle to the left of Marko. A fine wrist shot by Dominykas and the puck goes top shelf in the far left corner of the net. And after 6.20 the score is upped to 0-3. Instantly Croatian coach Danijel Kolombo replaces the goalie by number one netminder Ivan Stimac-Rojtinic. And Ivan starts off well as he denies Lithuanian forward Paulius Gintautas on a dangerous tip in. Only occasionally an attack by Team Croatia. Mostly led by fast skating Filip Jarcov. But all his shots were nullified by Simas Baltrunas. One time Jarcov could only illegally be stopped. Daniel Bogdziul was caught tripping by New Zealand referee Peter Haxell. On the powerplay Croatia number 15 Domagoj Kapetanic only hit the legguard of Simas. And Ivan Jankovic, who slalomed through whole of the opposing team, saw his shot end in the corner of the rink via the blocker of Baltrunas. Then Team Croatia became it's own worst enemy, with two exclusions in the final stage of the first period. But Lithuania did not put up a fierce powerplay show. It was only after Croatian goalie Ivan Stimac-Rojtinic carelessly intercepted a long Baltic pass and tried to clear. Paulius Gintautas brilliantly intercepted his pass and immediately fired at the net. A diving Ivan only just managed to prevent a fourth goal. While big Viktor Cerinski warmed the penalty bench one hardly could speak of a powerplay. Later on the bold Croatians appeared many a time in front of the Lithuanian net.

In the second stanza Team Croatia countered Lithuania on a more even level. A rebound on a shot by Dalius Mikalauskas was sent just wide by diminutive Domynikas Deksnys. At the other end of the rink captain Marko Sakic was denied by the Lithuanian netminder. While Filip Jarcov's shot just flies over the cross bar. But Team Croatia stops it's own revival. This is due to a hooking penalty against Luka Boric. Team Lithuania rules again and just after Boric has served his penalty Ilja Cetvertak passes to dynamic forward Daniel Bogdziul in the slot. Daniel turns on his skates, shoots and scores for 0-4 after 32.08. Team Croatia tries to regroup and occasionally tests goalie Baltrunas. But Simas stands tall on shots by Matija Milicic and Filip Jarcov. In the final minutes of the period one sees a massive attack on the Croatian net. But fine shots by Ilja Certvertak, Daniel Bogdziul and defenseman Domanas Cypas either just sail wide or are stopped by Ivan Stimac-Rojtinic. So it ends with a only one goal scored in the middle stanza.

Not long into the final period Bruno Kegalj is off for an interference call. Brilliant playmaking by Danielius Nomanovas, who fakes his way through the Croatian lines, follows. And although he could get a clean shot on goal he oversees the situation and passes to Paulius Gintautas near the second pole. Easily Paulius scores the fifth marker at 44.08. Team Lithuania pulls the brakes and Croatia shows up in front of Baltrunas. But whether Jarcov shoots or Tin Kovacek takes aim, Simas denies them all. Then a final offensive by the Lithuaninas. And in the final minute of play they are again succesful. A fine solo effort by Danielius Nomanovas, who beats the goalie (at 59.26) top shelf in the near corner and settles the score at 0-6 in favour of his team.

Right so the match MVP for Team Lithuania is goaltender Simas Baltrunas. For Team Croatia Luka Vukoja is honoured man of the match. For the tournament Lithuanian netminder Donatas Zukovas and Croatian defenseman Bruno Kegalj are designated MVP.

Photo series of the match