So much for Slovenia’s men’s hockey team just being happy to participate in its first Olympics.
Anze Kopitar and company surprised Slovakia 3-1 on Saturday (video), giving Slovenia its first-ever win at this level.
The most stunning part – and most worrisome for Slovak hockey – is that this wasn’t really some miracle goaltending performance. Slovenia actually fired more shots on goal (31-28) in the game and Slovakia never held a lead, as they merely avoided being shut out with a 3-1 goal late in the third period.
Rok Ticar scored the first goal, Tomaz Razingar got the game-winner and Anze Kopitar iced it with a 3-0 tally. Slovenia scored those three goals in a dizzying span that lasted about six minutes of game time. It’s the kind of game that may haunt more than a few Slovak hockey players, including Jaroslav Halak, who allowed three goals on 31 shots.
Slovenia’s team already came in on a relatively positive note in “only” losing to Russia 5-2, but now the country has a win that could very well make a difference in helping to boost the sport in a fledgling area.
Slovakia, meanwhile, has some soul-searching to do. Between this loss and the drubbing they received from the U.S., Zdeno Chara’s team has been dominated 10-2 in two defeats. While they will still get a chance to turn things around, this a disturbing start for a team some pegged to be a dark horse candidate.
For Slovenia, it’s a game many will never forget as they ready themselves for the U.S. tomorrow. Slovakia would like to do exactly the opposite – and fast – as they face Russia on Sunday.