Though Slovakia’s national ice hockey team suffered a 6-2 defeat against Russia in the final match of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Helsinki on May 20, the team greatly surpassed expectations of both fans and experts when it played for the gold, the TASR newswire reported.
The team led by Czech coach Vladimír Vůjtek not only won a berth at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games that will take place in Sochi, Russia but also earned their first medal in nine years following the bronze medal won, also in Helsinki, in 2003. This came after their biggest achievement in Sweden in 2002 when they became champions by beating Russia 4-3.
Slovakia took the lead early in the game but Russia levelled the score midway through the first period. The Slovaks were unable to withstand their opponents’ offensive pressure in the second period and conceded three goals within a span of nine minutes. Early in the third period, Russia scored its fifth goal, which effectively put an end to hope of a comeback. Slovakia’s star defender and captain of the team Zdeno Chára then scored his second goal of the game before Russia’s Evgeni Malkin made it 6-2.
At the end of the match, Chára was named the most productive Slovak player of the game. Slovakia’s goalkeeper, Ján Laco, was named to the All-Star Team and won the award as Best Goalkeeper of the event. The 30-year-old Slovak was in goal for most of the time in his first IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship and helped his team advance to the gold medal game, according to the IIHF official website. He was close behind Russia’s Semyon Varlamov (93.99%) in save percentage with 93.55% prior to the gold medal game.
Slovakia’s Chára was voted Best Defenceman and named to the All-Star Team as well along with Russian Ilya Nikulin.
Source: TASR, IIHF official website
Compiled by Radka Minarechová from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
21. May 2012 at 14:00