Slovak hockey representatives successfully entered the Olympic qualification. In their opening match in the Bratislava D-group, they defeated Austria just 2: 1 on Thursday.
The next ones will meet on Friday with the Poles (19.15), who in the opening duel of the tournament surprisingly won 1: 0 over Belarusians.
Slovaks have had the upper hand at the Ondrej Nepel Ice Stadium since the beginning. Already in the 2nd minute they took the lead thanks to Libor Hudáček, in the middle of the match Martin Gernát increased the cannonball.
In the third period, coach Craig Ramsay’s charges allowed the opponent to return to the match after a successful finish by Brian Lebler, but they kept a close lead in the end and recorded a winning start to the final tournament of the Olympic qualification.
Only the winner of the Bratislava event qualifies for the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing. In the basic C-group of the Olympic tournament, he will meet the Swedes, Finns and other successful qualifiers.
ZOH 2022 qualification – D-group (Bratislava):
Austria – Slovakia 1: 2 (0: 1, 0: 1, 1: 0)
Goals: 53. Lebler (Heinrich) – 2. Hudáček (Čerešňák), 29. Gernát (Čerešňák, Studenič). Judges: Hansen (NOR), Öhlund (Sweden) – Hynek (CZE), Kröyer (DEN), disqualification: 7: 4 for 2 min, power-ups and weakening: 0: 0, 4241 spectators.
Austria: Kickert – Strong, Unterweger, Heinrich, Schumnig, Pallestrang, Ulmer, Zündel, Wolf – Schneider, Hundertpfund, Ganahl – T. Raffl, Baumgartner, Herburger – Lebler, Rossi, Zwerger – Wukowits, Haudum, Obrist
Slovakia: Konrád – Marinčin, Jaroš, Čerešňák, Gernát, Grman, Kňažko, Ďaloga, Nemec – Cehlárik, Hrivík, Jurčo – Pospíšil, Ružička, Lantoši – Studenič, Hudáček, Daňo – Slafkovský, Gríger, Kelemen
The Slovaks had an excellent start to the match. The second formation immediately during its first substitution closed the Austrians in their defensive zone, Čerešňák indicated a shot, but instead he loaded Hudáček, who burned Kickert from the first – 0: 1. Ramsay’s charges did not stop the flight or weaken, they successfully defended themselves in it, and after its end, Daňo hit the construction of the Austrian goal from an angle. The opponent also threatened for a while, but Konrád reliably covered all shooting attempts.
In the 9th minute, Kelemen broke into a solo run, although he did not beat Kickert, but was fouled and gained a large advantage. After Zündel’s throwing of the puck out of the playing area, the Slovaks even had the opportunity to play 109 seconds of power play by two players, but they did not use a great opportunity, the cannons of Jaroš and Marinčina did not find their goal.
The Slovak team continued its activity in the second period. In the 24th minute, Grman supported the attack, at the last moment Unterweger’s block blocked him. After Jurč’s pass, Cehlárik had a huge chance to increase his lead, but only Kickert hit close up. The Slovaks played with movement in the front, but at times there were holes in the defense, into which the Austrians made quick lunges. Konrád had to be on the lookout, in the 26th minute he made a great shot at the chance of Herburger, then Haudum missed the exposed goal in the Austrian power play.
The players in white jerseys continued to push forward and in the 29th minute they scored the second goal – Gernát fired hard from the mantinel and the puck after the cannon fell to Kickert’s goal. Gernát liked it and soon after renumbering on the hockey stick he had another goal, the puck flew just over the Austrian goal. The Slovaks dominated on the ice, in the 37th minute Ružička was picked up by Ružick in concrete with Kickert’s concrete, which immediately neutralized Kelemen’s two attempts. Cehlárik and Slafkovský continued in the festival of lost chances.
The two-goal lead after two thirds did not give the Slovaks a winning certainty yet, so they skated with vigor in the third part, in order to add a reassuring goal insurance. After Dan’s cross pass, Studenič was close to her, but he was caught by Kickert. The Austrians still felt a chance, after a mistake of the Slovaks in the defensive zone, Lebert fired dangerously and Konrád struck the puck to the safety net.
The goalie of the Slovak Republic then held his team several times, but in the 53rd minute he was not enough to reach Lebler – 1: 2. The Austrians got back into the match, but after a hard intervention by Haudum on Grman they played weakened and Jurčo was close to the goal during the goal. The Austrians then did not use the promising renumbering of 2 to 1 in their own weakening. In the end, they tried it in the six without a goalkeeper, but the Slovaks defended the close lead.
Qualification D-group table:
1. SLOVAKIA 1 1 0 0 0 2: 1 3
2. Poland 1 1 0 0 0 1: 0 3
3. Austria 1 0 0 0 1 1: 2 0
4. Belarus 1 0 0 0 1 0: 1 0