By National Teams of Ice Hockey

Bosnia and Herzegovina emerged victorious to claim the gold medal at the 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III Group B in Sarajevo.

The hosts showcased their resilience in a nail-biting gold medal match against North Korea. Despite falling behind twice, they fought back and clinched a memorable 4-2 victory. The Skenderija Sports Arena reverberated with the cheers of 1,700 ecstatic spectators, making it a truly special moment.

The triumph signifies a significant achievement in the chronicles of ice hockey in Bosnia & Herzegovina. For the first time, their men’s team has secured the coveted gold medals in the World Championship play. As a result, the Bosnians will progress to compete in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division III Group A in 2025.

During the earlier stages of the tournament, Bosnia & Herzegovina showcased their strength by blanking Iran with a convincing 3-0 victory. However, they faced a tough challenge in the subsequent match against Hong Kong, losing 3-4 in overtime. Despite this setback, the team quickly bounced back and displayed their dominance by defeating the Philippines 6-3. Their remarkable performance continued as Nikko Gakovic’s hat-trick propelled them to a remarkable 9-2 triumph over Singapore.

In the highly anticipated promotion match against North Korea on Thursday night, Chun Rim Hong, the tournament’s top forward, wasted no time in making an impact. Within just 1 minute and 56 seconds, Hong unleashed a powerful shot from the top of the left dot, leaving Dino Pasovic helpless as the ball found the back of the net.

Prior to their encounter at IIHF World Championship play, the two teams had faced each other only once. It was in April 2015 when North Korea completely dominated Bosnia & Herzegovina, leaving them without a single goal in a remarkable 13-0 triumph.

During the game, Bosnia’s goalkeeper Pasovic was in action in the first two periods. Fast forward nine years, he made a key save against Ji Ung Ryu, who received a pass from Chung Hyok Kim. The Bosnian defense then valiantly defended their net. Following this, the hosts scored a goal as Din Alen Filipovic outplayed Chung Nam Choe and assisted Gakovic to tie the game.

Following their relegation from the 2019 IIHF World Championship Division IIB in Mexico City, North Korea reentered World Championship play. Five years later, 11 players from the original roster were still representing the team

The team captain, Hong, is a significant player on the team. With 20 points (11+9) in five games, he is the top scorer of the tournament. His second goal of the night, scored on the powerplay in the first period, helped North Korea regain the lead.

Prior to this, Canadian head coach Ross MacLean had already led Bosnia´s U20 team to victory in Division IIIB at the current venue. Eight players from that team were chosen for the men´s team, and two of them were involved in setting up Bosnia´s 2-2 goal when Kwang Song Ryu received a roughing penalty. Vasilije Vucinic, a 16-year-old defenseman, passed to Belmin Sinanbegovic, who then assisted Dino Cordalija in scoring the equalizing goal against North Korea.

With the hosts now in control, the home crowd once again erupted in excitement just 40 seconds later as Bosnia surged ahead. Netminder Pasovic displayed his alertness by denying North Korea’s attempts twice, while Adnan Mlivic skillfully maneuvered the puck during a three-on-one rush. Although Denny Miskic’s initial shot was saved by Jo in North Korea’s net, debutant Andreas Andrijasevic capitalized on the rebound and scored.

In the 3rd period, the Bosnian rearguard displayed heroic defending while Pasovic’s inspiring net minding prevented North Korea from scoring. , Midway into the period Miskic’s energetic strike sealed Bosnia’s lead at 4-2, causing the Skenderija Sports Arena to erupt in jubilant celebrations.

In a monumental display, the 38-year-old goalie retired on a positive note following his most unforgettable game in a Bosnia uniform, where he stopping 45 North Korean shots.

Pasovic stood out as the top goaltender in the 2024 gold medal-winning team, achieving a remarkable 2.21 GAA and an outstanding 93.53 save percentage. He was recognized as the best goalie of the tournament for the second consecutive year during a Division IIIB competition hosted in Sarajevo.

Hong Kong secures the Bronze Medal, while Iran relinquishes its spot in the division

Hong Kong clinched their second consecutive bronze at this level, pondering what could have been. Despite a setback in their first game against DPR Korea, they showed resilience by winning in overtime against Bosnia. Chung Pan Justin Cheng stood out as the team’s top scorer with 17 points in five games. An outstanding performances and one of the best scores in international play for Hong Kong.

Singapore emerged victorious in the divisional struggle, defeating Iran 8-5 on the last day and securing a commendable fifth-place finish. Unfortunately, Iran, unable to secure a win, has been relegated to Division IV for the 2025 season.