Bucharest, Romania - We begin coverage of the 2013 IIHF World U20 Junior Ice Hockey Championships Division II Group A with the victors of Division II Group B in 2012: Team Romania and the Romanian Ice Hockey Federation. Their better years may be behind them as the Romanians been bouncing around in the bottom tiers since 1999, however after their first promotion to DIIA play in four years, their fortunes may be changing.
IIHF Record: 70-80-9
2012 Final Results: Division II Group B First Place with 5-0-0 record (Promoted to Division II Group A)
Head Coach: Otto Keresztes (GER)
The Romanians may not have been much of a force in hockey for the last decade and a half, however in their early years, they were a team to be reckoned with. Their best season came 24 years ago in 1988 when they tied Norway in the simple round-robin tourney of Pool B (back when the tiers were Pool A-D). However, since Norway had defeated them earlier in the competition, they held the tie-breaker. Norway has since played in the Top Division twice whereas the Romanians haven't come close since.
Romania has had a healthy history at the DIIA level. For a seven year stretch in the 2000's ('03-'09) they played in this group and three of those times came in second place. Their existence in the IIHF WJHC has been a story of falling just shy of moving up. However, they have much to build off of their victory at the DIIB level in 2012 and may have a shot at turning some heads in 2013 although it's difficult to gauge promoted teams simply because they are playing better teams than the year before. The question is, just how good are they?
In 2012, they upset Estonia to capture the top spot. Led by goaltender Szabolcs Szakacs, the top goalie in DIIB play, and scorers Matyas Biro, Roberto Gliga, and Zsombor Molnar, Romania was able to complete the tournament undefeated. And while Szakacs is no longer age-eligible, they still have a fighting chance with young buck Zoltan Toke who was right behind him in the rankings. All three of the aforementioned forwards will also be returning. The other issue still to be reckoned is that they have a very stout defensive core. Speed will only get you so far as you move up the ranks. Everybody has speed when in the upper echelons, size will eventually need to come into play.
The best thing the Romanians have going for them is simply the consistency. They can take all but three players from last year with them to DIIA play, and that chemistry can take them a long way. Remember, the goal for a newly promoted team is simple: don't finish in last place. The only problem is that the competition at this level is tough and Romania will have to pave their way and stamp their existence quickly leaving no one to question that they belong here.
For previous team articles, click the links below
Division II Group B: http://www.juniorhockey.com/news/news_detail.php?news_id=75279
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.