‘Austria should never have a chance against Canada,’ says Raffl

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On paper, it’s a huge mismatch. And the Austrian men’s hockey team knows it.

Austria, ranked 15th in the world in the men’s IIHF ranking, meets the No. 5-ranked Canada, the defending gold medal champions with a lineup full of the game’s greatest stars, in preliminary Group B action on Friday. Needless to say, the Canadian contingent goes into this one as the heavy favorites and the Austrians are aware the chances of pulling off a monumental upset victory are slim. Very slim.

“If you’re realistic, Austria should never have a chance against Canada,” Austrian forward Michael Raffl told The Canadian Press. “You can’t go in there like that. You want to win. But you know your chances.”

Austria opened the tournament with a wild 8-4 loss to Finland on Thursday. That defeat prompted a stern critique of Austria’s goaltender, Bernhard Starkbaum, from Austrian forward Thomas Vanek.

“We started great and then gave up easy goals. We gave up too many shots from the middle and our goalie couldn’t control them,” Vanek said. “He added, “For us to beat a team like Finland, (Starkbaum) needs to be our best player.

Canada got off to a nervous looking start against Norway, but eventually settled down and overtook the game, winning by a final score of 3-1.

Roberto Luongo will get the start in goal for Canada against Austria, while Mike Smith will be on the bench as the back up.