There were four qualification games played today in the Olympic hockey tournament, with Slovenia facing Austria, Russia taking on Norway, Latvia playing Switzerland and the Czech Republic facing Slovakia. Here are the results.
First off, Slovenia won their qualifier in a 4-0 shutout over the Austrians. This was an unexpected win for Slovenia, who were not expected to make it to the quarterfinals in the country’s first ever Olympic Ice Hockey appearance. Anze Kopitar got Slovenia on the board first, with a wide-open shot from the slot to score the game’s first goal.Their second goal was a shorthanded mark by Jan Urbas in the third period. Slovenia went on to score twice more, and goaltender Robert Kristian made 30 saves to finalize a 4-0 shutout for Slovenia.
Next, the Russians stomped Norway in another 4-0 shutout, with two goals and an assist coming from Alexander Radulov and 22 saves from Sergei Bobrovsky. Goals also came from Ilya Kovalchuk and Alexey Tereshenko. The Russians, however, didn’t win as comfortably as the home crowd might have liked. They were up by only two goals with 1:07 to go, before adding two more tallies to put the game away. If they want to capture Gold, stars like Alexander Ovechkin, goalless in his last three games, need to step it up. It’ll be a battle from here on out for the Russians.
The third game today was a surprising upset, with Latvia overthrowing Switzerland by a score of 3-1. Latvia’s Oskars Bartulis opened the scoring in the game, burying a nicely screened shot to beat Switzerland’s goaltender Jonas Hiller. The second tally came from Latvia’s Lauris Darzins on the power play. Switzerland finally scored a goal from Martin Pluss, and went on to pull the goalie in an attempt to even things up, but in the end Latvia’s Lauris Darzins put home an empty-netter to win the game 3-1. With this win, Latvia will go on to play Canada in the quarterfinals.
Lastly, we have the Czech Republic topping Slovakia 5-3. The Czech Republic got going early in the game, owning a commanding 3-0 lead after one period off goals from Ales Hemsky, and David Krejci. They slowed down a bit in the second, but nearing the end of the period Roman Cervenka found the back of the net yet again, putting the Czechs up 4-0. Just after, with a minute left in the second, Marian Hossa put up Slovakia’s first tally of the game to make it 4-1 after two. Eight minutes of play later, seven into period three, Hossa netter goal number two for himself and his team, making it 4-2. About a minute later, Tomas Surovy closed the gap for Slovakia, making the game a much closer 4-3. Late in the third, however, the Czech Republic’s Tomas Plekanec the last goal of the night for the final score of 5-3 in favor of the Czechs.
And with that, the quarterfinals are set to begin, with the match-ups as follows: