International Series: Team Croatia - Junior Hockey News
Published: Wednesday, 9 May 2012
By: Matt Prosser
Zagreb, Croatia - A new dawn is just on the horizon for the Croatian Ice Hockey Federation's U20 team. With a total of 8 players too old to return next season, who knows what kind of product they will put on the ice for the 2013 IIHF World U20 Junior Ice Hockey Championships. And after already having been on the bump for relegation, Croatia is going to need to find some cohesion amongst what will be a drastically different dressing room.
IIHF Record: 33-43-7
2012 Final Results: Division I Group B Fifth Place with 2-3-0 record
Head Coach: Danijel Kolombo (CRO)
At the 2012 WJHC Division I Group B tourney held in Poland, there were only two things that saved Croatia's trip from being a total waste of time. One: we got to see European pro-talent, Borna Rendulic, perform who despite finishing third in points was named Best Forward at this level. Two: Croatia did end up with wins against Italy and Japan (who was relegated).
Other than that, this team played possibly the worst out of any team that attended World Juniors at any level. Not one player finished with a positive +/-, they didn't utilize the size they had on defense, couldn't play the boards at all, and neither of their goalies could stop a watermelon if one were shot at them. The two goalies combined for a save percentage of 86.67% with a 6.14 GAA to boot. In starter Mate Tomljenovic's defense, he had to face an average of 39 shots per game, but the mark of a start goaltender is to steal a game or two for your team and that just wasn't the case. The two games he won were the games where he didn't face as many shots (and still allowed three goals against Japan).
This article is not meant to blast the Croatians, just to state the facts; and the facts are that they were just an awful team that couldn't play as a group. Bad passing and a strong lack of execution drove Croatia to the brink of elimination and it is arguable that Japan, despite being relegated played better. The Croatians will have a lot to prove in 2013 and young players will need to take the reigns as all three of their top players will not be back. Hopefully they have a decent pool of players to grab from or else it could be another long week next year.
Matt Prosser, Beat Writer for JuniorHockey.com and host of the upcoming show: Junior Hockey Central. Founder 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 questions, writing ventures, or advertising/sponsorships for the show please e-mail Matt@Fifty8productions.com. Follow on Twitter @MattProsser58 or visit www.Fifty8Productions.com.
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