#2017BELFAST: FOCUS ON CROATIA

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CROATIA
WORLD RANKING: 26th
LAST YEAR: 4th in IIHF World Championship Division 1 Group B
COACH: Enio Sacilotto

As the countdown to the historic World Championship Division 1 Group B in Belfast begins, we take a look at the six teams who will play in the first men’s World Championship in the UK for 25 years. Here’s the background on Croatia…

Croatia will be led at the World Championship Division 1 Group B by a familiar face to UK ice hockey.

Enio Sacilotto was head coach of Bracknell Bees from 2000 to 2003 and quickly become a popular figure in the now-defunct Superleague.

The 58-year-old will take charge of Croatia at his first World Championship when they begin the tournament against GB on Sunday.

Last year on home ice, Croatia were beaten 4-1 in their opening game before a 4-1 defeat by Ukraine ruled them out of gold-medal contention.

A 12-5 victory over Romania finally got their tournament up and running, while 5-3 victory over Estonia pitched them into a bronze-medal showdown with Lithuania, knowing a regulation-time win would clinch third place.

In the end, Croatia won 2-1 in after penalty shots but the point for Lithuania meant they secured the bronze.

Croatia are in a period of transformation and building to the future. After winning a silver medal in Lithuania in 2014, they decided to go down the route of more home-grown players.

Two successive fourth-placed finishes have followed and this year in Belfast, they will be hoping to go at least one better and me back amongst the medals.

Photo credit: Colin Lawson.