International Ice Hockey Federation

Austria, Slovenia go up

Austria, Slovenia go up

Slovenes earn gold in 3-1 win against Austria

Published 27.04.2014 00:08 GMT+9 | Author Martin Merk
Austria, Slovenia go up
Slovenia's Rok Leber with a scoring opportunity in front of Austrian netminder Bernhard Starkbaum. Photo: Soohan Kim
Slovenia will join Austria to the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship thanks to a 3-1 win against their neighbours after Japan missed to beat Hungary.

It was the big chance for other teams to challenge the two top-seeded teams who played in the Sochi Olympics just two months ago and Austria and Slovenia were heavily challenged during the 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A but not prevented from going up to the top division again.

“It feels great. It’s been a tough game and tournament. We called the last games quarter-final, semi-final and this was our gold medal game and luckily it ended up well. We deserve what we achieved,” said Jan Urbas, who scored Slovenia’s first two goals and had the assist on the third.

“They put a lot of pressure on us and in the end we scored three goals and held it up. We didn’t give them too many chances. Our goalkeeper and defence played well.”

For Austria the good news came already one hour before the game as Hungary defeated Japan, which meant that Austria was promoted in any case. The only question was who would join them: Slovenia, which needed to beat Austria, or otherwise Japan, which had missed to earn promotion on its own in the early game against Hungary.

“It was a good game. We played very well. Slovenia had a lot of pressure to win and we wanted to win too,” Austria head coach Manny Viveiros said after the game.

“This young team has worked really hard these weeks and really deserved to be promoted. It’s a great performance one could almost compare to the qualification to the Olympics. To make this next step is a compliment for these young players.”

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Those who thought only the Slovenes would be motivated and the Austrians would take it easy proved wrong. From the first face-off it was a competitive game between these two rivals and neighbours with shots and just few penalties on both sides and no goals in the first 20 minutes of play.

Tomaz Razinger had the probably best chance in the beginning of the second period on a breakaway but didn’t hit the puck as he wanted and shot it wide the net.

At 13:44 the puck was in the net for the first time. A misunderstanding between Austrian goalkeeper Bernhard Starkbaum and Matthias Iberer led to a giveaway behind the net. First Marcel Rodman missed on the opportunity with Starkbaum back in the net but Urbas scored on the rebound. But the Slovenes couldn’t enjoy the lead for long. 96 seconds later Benjamin Petrik scored his first goal of the tournament with a shot from the blueline that went in into the top-right corner and made the Japanese players in attendance smile.

The third period started again with a tight battle between two teams on par and after several scoring opportunities it was Urbas, who scored again for Slovenia after a centering pass from the end boards from David Rodman.

Austria was looking to tie the game but Slovenia tried to use the open space. With 92 seconds left Miha Stebih scored the 3-1 goal after Urbas had taken the puck away from Martin Schumnig in the Austrian zone. The Slovenian bench was watching the countdown before celebrating their return to the top division and singing the national anthem.

“I think we came as a favourite after the results at the Olympic Games,” Slovenian forward David Rodman said. “We wanted to finish first and after the first game against Japan we told ourselves we cannot afford to lose anymore. There were no easy games for us here.”

Slovenia and Austria will travel to Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic, for the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.

“It was a tough game. We played against a good Austrian team. They were more relaxed in the beginning. We know each other pretty well. It’s tough for both sides,” Slovenian head coach Matjaz Kopitar said.

“They missed a lot of players like us. Hopefully we will both have strong teams and perform well in the Czech Republic next year.”


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