Croatia (currently ranked 30th in the IIHF World Rankings) advanced to Group G with three easy wins, 9-2 over Mexico (34th), a 15-2 blowout over Israel (40th) and secured their place in the next phase with a 6-2 win over Serbia (31) in Group K back in September at home in Zagreb, narrowing the field to 30 clubs at present.
Poland and Spain meet in todays early game, followed by Estonia vs. Ukraine in the second game in Kiev.
Group J began earlier today in Japan, with Great Britain (21) losing in a shootout to South Korea (28) 5-4 after Great Britain led 3-1 after one period.
Hosts Japan (22) defeated Romania (27) 2-0 in the second game. Japan now takes on rivals South Korea Saturday evening in Nikko, preceded by Romania against Great Britain.