The UAE won the IIHF World Championship Division 2 Group B at the Zaytinburnu Ice Rink in Istanbul.

By Amith Passela – The National

The UAE Ice Hockey team continued their progress up the rankings with a historic triumph in the IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) World Championship Division 2 Group B in Turkey.

They defeated Mexico 9-4 in their final game to emerge unbeaten champions in the six-team competition at the Zaytinburnu Ice Rink in Istanbul on Sunday.

Artem Klavdiev put the UAE ahead in the opening minute and then Luka Vukoja and Sergei Kuznetsov stretched their advantage to 3-0 in the first period to set the platform.

UAE captain Juma Al Dhaheri added a fourth early in the second period before Mexico struck twice through Alejandro Apud and Angel Tapia to close the gap to 4-2.

Daniel Cuellar struck for Mexico three minutes into the third and final period to reduce the deficit further to a solitary goal but Al Dhaheri and Kuznetsov were on target for the UAE to regain the three-goal advantage.

Eduardo Valencia pulled one back but that was as close Mexico got, as the UAE struck thrice in the closing stages courtesy Kuznetsov, Klavdiev and Maxim Zakharau to seal the match and the championship title.

Belgium finished second ahead of Bulgaria, New Zealand, Turkiye and Mexico in that order.

Earlier, the UAE outclassed Turkey 8-0, edged out Belgium 4-3, defeated New Zealand 7-1, and overcame Bulgaria 7-2.

Last year, the UAE won the Division 3 Group A in Luxembourg for their promotion to Division 2.

“Winning an IIHF World Championship title for the second year in succession is a remarkable achievement and it is indeed a clear indication of the progress we have made,” Al Dhaheri said.

“We work closely with the IIHF to develop the sport in the country. We have a strong domestic league with full-time foreign players. It is getting better and better every passing year, and the success we have had is due to the continuity of the development strategies in place.”