Belgrade, Serbia - Ascension would be the best term to describe Team Serbia. The Serbian Ice Hockey Association has technically been around since 1939, but not necessarily in its current form. Up until 2007 it was regarded as Yugoslavia which changed along with its dispersion. The IIHF however recognizes Serbia as its predecessor and therefore retains all history associated with its previous form. Because of that, the team we now see competing at the IIHF World U20 Ice Hockey Championships is now Serbia. Other Yugoslavian countries still participate and we will cover them at another time. For now though, check out some details about the Serbians since their independence.
IIHF Record: 13-14-0
2012 Final Results: Division II Group B Third Place with 3-2-0 record
Head Coach: Djordje Ljoljic (SRB)
While Novak Djokovic tends to dominate the Serbian sports world, junior hockey has found its small niche. In the last two years the team has been on the incline, moving up from Division III with Mexico in 2011 and being the only one of the two to still remain in Division II Group B. In fact, at the 2012 WJHC, Serbia performed remarkably well for a team promoted after the previous year.
In game one they defeated Australia (4-2), continued on to beat their fellow call-ups Mexico (4-1), and their final win coming against DIIB veterans Belgium (4-2). The only losses the Serbians suffered were at the hands of the two most high powered offenses in the group: Romania (9-3), who later went on to be promoted to DIIA, and Estonia (12-3), who scored more goals than any other in the group. Bottom line, is that while they still had some growing to do, they could still put some raspberries on opponents' faces.
Despite Serbia's two defeats, which amounted to 21 goals against in total, their goaltender (Jovan Feher) received the IIHF Best Goaltender Award. The great thing is that he accomplished that at the age of 16, which makes him eligible to return to the tournament for the next 4 years. This could be the player to lead the Serbians to greener pastures. While Estonia still looks to be the power house in the group in 2013, they are going to be losing potentially 10 players which would leave them vulnerable. That could be a great window for Serbia to creep through and sneak their way into Division II Group A for 2014. Imagine that, three promotions in just four years could be on the horizon for this young, but still old, country.
For previous team articles, click the links below
Division III: http://www.juniorhockey.com/news/news_detail.php?news_id=75142
New Zealand: http://www.juniorhockey.com/news/news_detail.php?news_id=75122
Intro to 2013 WJHC: http://www.juniorhockey.com/news/news_detail.php?news_id=75064
Matt Prosser, Featured Writer for JuniorHockey.com. Owner of Fifty8 Productions and freelance writer from the San Francisco Bay Area. Voice of California State University, Sacramento Hockey and host of The Sports Cycle with Matt Prosser on KSSU1580 Sacramento. For comments and writing ventures e-mail Matt@Fifty8productions.com. Follow on Twitter @MattProsser58 or visit www.kssusportsycle.com.