by Bernard McNamara

Australia has won Gold at the Under 18 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships (Div II, Group B) in Belgrade this morning, defeating Serbia 4-1 in the Final.

The victory over host nation Serbia puts Australia on top of the Group B table and secures a promotion to the Division II Group A for 2018.

It was a nervous wait for the Australians, who had to rely on Spain beating the Netherlands in a close game to give them a chance to play for the gold medal.

“We were all watching the Spain game and hoping it would give us the opportunity to play for gold, said Australian Coach Steve Laforet.

“It was either gold or nothing this year, which was a bit scary.”

Now with the gold medal in his pocket, Laforet reflected on the progress his team made in such a short period of time.

“I’m over the moon about this gold medal and promotion, said Laforet.

“Six months ago this would have been a dream for us but today it’s a reality, the boys really worked hard and they stuck to the system.”

Australian forward Findlay Wood was an impressive presence in the Gold medal game: scoring a hat trick and picking up an assist, while goalie James Downie from the Sydney Bears was equally dominant in the net: stopping 20 of 21 shots.

Australian defenceman Declan Bronte was named the game’s MVP, as the Australia's defence rallied and held off the Serbian offense for the final two periods, after conceding a single goal in the first period.

The Gold medal caps off an impressive tournament for the young Australians: Tyrone Bronte finished tied first among all scorers with 12 Points (6 goals, 6 assists); his line-mate Findlay Wood, led all goal scorers with 9 goals in 5 games; and James Downie was named goalie of the tournament with a 93.14% save percentage.

As the Australian U18s World Championship team savours their win, the Australian Mens' team, the Mighty Roos prepare for their own World Championship campaign with a week-long pre-tournament training camp in Europe, before the competition kicks off in Romania on 3 April