South Africa have claimed an upset victory over the New Zealand Under-20s at the IIHF World Championships in Iceland, winning 1-0 with the singular goal coming late in the game after a tense struggle between the two traditional sporting rivals.
The loss sees the Under-20s shutout by their opposition in back-to-back games as the offensive struggles continue.
In their third outing, the Junior Ice Blacks were much improved in the shots on goal department – tallying 25 to South Africa’s 31. While their starting goalie Ryan Boyd is credited with the shutout, Drew Kinney has continued to be solid in net for New Zealand.
The defensive effort also saw improvement. Issak Reid’s effort to break up a clear 2-on-1 scoring opportunity halfway through the first was a highlight in what was a scrappy game between two sides desperate for a W.
Dump and chase felt like the order of the day during the opening period, with neither side spending any significant time beyond the blue line cycling the puck to create chances. It was all a ‘feeling out’ process to see who will take charge of the game. In the end, that responsibility fell to the netminders with no score through the first two periods of play.
The goaltending bout was eventually broken up by Delano Schuurman’s game-winning goal with 10:28 remaining in the third period.
New Zealand now find themselves in the placement rounds and looking to salvage a result from the tournament. Their next opponent? Iceland.
The host nation have performed relatively strong in this tournament. Grouped into the same pool as Australia and Turkey, they stunned the Junior Mighty Roos with a 5-4 overtime win, only missing out on a semifinals berth by one point after their 4-2 defeat to Turkey overnight.
If NZ pull off the victory in front of the Reykjavik home crowd, they will face a matchup to determine fifth place with either Chinese Taipei or once again, South Africa. On the other side of the coin, they could be battling for seventh spot come Sunday.
The puck drops for New Zealand v Iceland at 11pm tomorrow NZ time.
Note: Highlights were not available for this game as YouTube blocked the live stream due to music copyright issues.
All photos supplied by Ice Hockey Iceland.