Second win for Ukraine
Second win for Ukraine
Rendulic return fails to spark Croatia
Despite being outshot 28-33, a couple of goals in each of the first two periods set the tone for Ukraine as they recorded their second consecutive victory.
Dmytro Chernyshenko's early opening goal got Ukraine into their stride. Denys Isayenko, Viktor Zakharov and Oleg Shafarenko also got on the scoresheet during a fine 4-1 win. 20-year-old Eduard Zakharchenko racked up another solid display in net with 32 saves.
"It was a tough, physical game but we are happy with our performance," said Ukraine head coach Olexander Savitsky.
A jetlagged Borna Rendulic made a return to his native Zagreb and leapfrogged straight into Croatia's first line with Nathan Perkovich and Mislav Blagus. Despite winning the shots they failed to capitalize on their chances. Croatia's lone marker was scored by Luka Mikulic.
Ukraine broke the deadlock following a defensive lapse which saw Chernyshenko break clear and slot home their opener after 2:28.
Croatia came close when David Brine from the right point found Michael Glumac who turned and forced a fine save by Zakharchenko.
Ukraine scored their second of the evening at 14:39, when a deflection on Isayenko's onetimer found its way past Mate Tomljenovic in Croatia's net, but Croatia fought themselves back into the game. A rare shift by their fourth line saw Mikulic finish high past Zakharchenko to pull a goal back for Croatia ahead of the first intermission.
Just 13 seconds in to the middle frame team captain Zakharov scored from a tight angle to stretch Ukraine's lead to 3-1. Shafarenko then slotted home Ukraine's fourth and final goal of the evening into Croatia's net after a fine four-man move at 26:10 when Ukraine were playing on a 5-on-3 advantage.
Any chance of a Croatia fightback in the final frame was disrupted by a plethora of penalty calls as Ukraine comfortably held out to become worthy winners and record their second victory.
"Ukraine is such a skilled team and have some big bodies which made it tough for some of our guys in front of the net," said Croatia head coach Alan Letang who in two games so far has seen his players find both goals and points hard to come by. With Rendulic's return bolstering the team's offensive prowess, a shift in Croatia's fortunes is hoped to be looming just around the corner.
"Borna lifts up our young guys. They look up to him and he is their kind of hero or mentor," said Letang. "Lots of credit to him in tonight's game. It is not easy to step out and play after that kind of long travel. I thought he played really hard tonight and you noticed him out there making a couple of nice plays."
Romania is next up for Croatia on Wednesday, while Ukraine will take on Estonia.
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