The Israeli national ice hockey team has secured a spot in Division II, Group A for next year's IIHF World Ice Hockey Championship with a 13-2 win today over Bulgaria. Israeli star Daniel Erlich led the way with 3 goals and 8 assists. Oren Eizenman also had a hat trick with 5 assists and Daniel Mazour potted 4 goals and added 2 helpers. The Israeli team scored early and often. This game was never in doubt, with Israel scoring its first goal only a couple of minutes into the game. The only "close" point in the game afterwards was when Bulgaria scored late in the second period to bring the score to 5-2. After that, the Israelis went on an all out scoring spree and never looked back.
Israel has captured first place in the tournament with four wins and no losses. It will play Mexico in the final game of the tournament on Saturday. Even if Israel were to lose, the worst it could do at this point would be to finish tied with China or New Zealand, both of whom Israel has already defeated. Israel would therefore advance on the basis of tie-breaker rules. Division II Group A opponents will include Belgium, Iceland, Austria and Serbia. Spain will move from Group A down into Group B to take Israel's spot. Croatia will be moving up from Division II Group A to Division I Group B after winning the Group A round robin. Great Britain, which played this year in Division I will move down and join Israel in Division II Group A.
Israel will now be ranked #34 in the world in international ice hockey. With its move to the next division, it will be competing against teams ranked 29 to 34, with an opportunity to move up to the 3rd best division in the world. This is a significant achievement for the Israeli national ice hockey program though it is unlikely that the players will be mobbed at the airport by adoring fans on their return from Turkey.