After a fast-paced set of competitions, athletes from Estonia took the top position in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, as the 2009 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships B Tournament finished this past weekend.
The final day of competitions had the Estonian team pitted against Sweden, and Poland against Great Britain. Estonia edged by the Swedish athletes, winning 1-0, after a hard-fought battle on the ice. The final was held just five hours after the third place match on 21 March, which saw Poland win 5-1 against Great Britain.
The win for Estonia qualifies them, along with Sweden to compete against the teams in the last two places of Tournament A, which will take place in Ostrava, Czech Republic, from 9-16 May 2009. The matches will comprise the 2009 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Paralympic Qualifier, with the two winning teams being eligible to compete at the Vancouver 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
The host country, The Netherlands, lost their match against Sweden on the previous day, 20 March, with a shutout of 3-0. Sweden stepped directly up to the winning plate in the first period with two goals, putting a hold on the scoreboard through the game, with an additional point in the last period. Estonia won against Poland on the same day, 3-2.
Sweden had finished first in the pool of teams after the match against the Dutch. The team was followed by Estonia, Poland, Great Britain and The Netherlands. The ending results of the list qualified the top two positions (Sweden and Estonia) to compete in the finals, and the two subsequent positions (Poland and Great Britain) to compete in the match for third place.
On 19 March, the first day back after a brief rest period for the teams, saw an incredibly strong victory for the Swedish, winning against Great Britain 10:0. Another shutout was also seen by the Dutch, losing against Estonia 7-0.
The 2009 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships B Tournament began on 15 March in the Dutch city, with the first match between Great Britain and The Netherlands. The host country lost to Great Britain 8-2, with the Swedish winning the second match against Poland 3:1.
Sweden continued its winning streak on the second day against Estonia, winning 3-1. Great Britain took a big loss the same day against Poland, 10-1. The British team took another high-scoring loss the next day against Estonia, 12-0, and Poland beat The Netherlands 5-0.
Since its debut on the Paralympic Programme at the Lillehammer 1994 Winter Paralympics, Ice Sledge Hockey has quickly become one of the largest attractions for spectators at the Winter Paralympics. It is quick, highly physical and played by male athletes with a physical disability in the lower part of the body. Ice Sledge Hockey follows the rules of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) with modifications. Instead of skates, players use two-blade sledges that allow the puck to pass beneath. Players use two sticks, which have a spike-end for pushing and a blade-end for shooting.