Italy registered a surprise 3-2 penalty shoot-out victory over hosts South Korea today to remain in fourth place in the standings at the 2017 World Para Ice Hockey Championships in Gangneung.
Following a 2-2 draw after regulation time at the Gangneung Hockey Centre, neither team managed to find the net during the five-minute overtime period.
In the penalty shoot-out, Italy's leading goalscorer Sandro Kalegaris converted on his team's first attempt and defender Gianluigi Rosa fired home on the third.
Goalkeeper Gabriele Araudo blocked all of South Korea's efforts to secure the victory for Italy, who have never finished higher than fifth place on the world stage.
"This win is a big step ahead for us as a programme, and hopefully we can take a medal this year," Kalegaris said.
The first 15 minutes of the game were closely contested, with only South Korea captain Jong-Kyung Lee finding the net, assisted by two-time Paralympians Jong-Ho Jang and Seung-Hwan Jung.
Just 27 seconds into the second period, Young-Sung Kim scored on the power play to give the home team a two-goal advantage.
Italy fought back though in the third period with veteran forward Florian Planker halving the deficit with just under 10 minutes left and 19-year-old Christoph Deapoli soon levelling the scores courtesy of his second goal of the tournament.
Kalegaris' goal in the penalty shoot-out would then be ruled the game-winner, earning Italy two points and taking them onto eight overall.
South Korea remain in third place behind Canada with 10 points.
Reigning champions the United States are still undefeated atop the standings after forwards Brody Roybal and Declan Farmer both registered hat-tricks in their team's 6-0 win over Norway, moving them onto 15 points.
Farmer's hat-trick was his third of the tournament and took his overall goal tally to 11.
Norway are fifth in the standings with five points, two more than Sweden who beat winless Germany 2-0 today to pick up their first victory in Gangneung and jump up to sixth place.
Robin Meng, a Beijing 2008 Paralympian in wheelchair basketball, gave the Swedes their first lead during the event with 15 seconds remaining in the opening period.
His first goal of the tournament, and his country's third, was added to by two-time Paralympic forward Per Kasperi with less than one-and-a-half minutes of the third period left.
The Championships, which are due to conclude on Thursday (April 20), are serving as a test event for the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Paralympics
The top five finishers automatically qualify for next year’s Games.
The last of the round-robin matches are scheduled for tomorrow with Canada facing Germany, the US meeting South Korea and Norway going up against Italy.
International and local media joined Games stakeholders, athletes and senior leaders from the Pyeongchang 2018 Organising Committee for a briefing session today to take a closer look at the planning and preparations of the Winter Paralympic Games.
They also reviewed the 25 test events - 20 Olympic and five Paralympic - that have been held since February 2016 under the series name of "Hello Pyeongchang", including the World Para Ice Hockey Championships.
The day consisted of two sessions with a morning briefing led by Pyeongchang 2018 secretary general Yeo Hyung-koo followed by an afternoon of sporting action.
"Our series of test events have been a great success and a valuable opportunity for our team to develop their operational skills ahead of next year's Games," Yeo said.
"We will build on these 25 events to ensure we give everyone who is part of the Games the best experience possible.
"Unity and inclusion are very important elements of the Paralympic Games, as is the legacy that it will leave behind.
"We are working hard to ensure it will be a Games for all, and that we use it as a springboard to develop sporting opportunities for the impaired individuals in Korea.
"We want to give everyone the same sporting chance and create champions of the future across both Olympic and Paralympic sports."