Feb 19, 2014, 9:06 AM EST
Slovenia’s Olympic journey came to an end on Wednesday as it was defeated 5-0 by Sweden in the tournament quarterfinals.
While it wasn’t the way any of the Slovenes wanted it to end — it was a one-goal game heading into the third period, after all — players were quick to put the loss in perspective.
“It’s been a great tournament for us,” leading scorer Ziga Jeglic told IIHF.com. “We’ll have our heads up high when we come home.”
In terms of Olympic Cinderellas, Slovenia has etched itself in history alongside Belarus in 2002 and the Slovaks in 2010. But to be honest, those don’t really compare — Belarus really only did one notable thing at the Games (beat Sweden in which was, admittedly, one of the biggest upsets in hockey history) and were routed on a number of occasions. The Slovakians certainly surprised in ’10, but had a roster rife with NHL talent: Zdeno Chara, Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik, Lubomir Visnovsky and Jaroslav Halak, to name a few.
What Slovenia did in Sochi was unique.
Selecting from a pool of 148 registered hockey players — which, let’s be honest, is a good-sized North American beer league — Slovenia came to the Olympics boasting just one NHLer (Anze Kopitar) and zero history of international success. Heck, the Slovenes are still playing in the second-tier of the World Hockey Championships, along with luminaries like South Korea, Great Britain and Hungary.
Yet none of that kept the Slovenes from getting after it in Sochi. “Getting after it” is the key, because they didn’t sit back and try to play for ties. They were down 3-2 heading into the third period of a daunting opener against Russia. They beat the Slovaks 3-1 while putting 31 shots on goal. The Slovenes then scored three more against Austria in the opening playoff round to advance to the quarterfinals. They were aggressive. They worked hard.
Slovenia even kept in close in today’s loss to the Swedes, despite the 5-0 scoreline. Sweden needed four third-period goals to put the Slovenes away, an effort that drew high praise from goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
“They hang around for two periods and you never know if it can be a different game,” he said, per NHL.com. “You just need to play your best and have that little extra luck in these types of games by working hard.
“This was a game we had to win. We didn’t expect to go easy and it didn’t, until the end. Up until then, it was a big fight out there.”
With their Olympics now over, the Slovenes will head home with an unexpected eighth-place finish and the respect of the hockey world. It’s quite the accomplishment — just ask Kopitar.
“To be quite honest, we thought we could come in and stir the pot a little bit, maybe get a point here and there, and see what happens,” he said, per NHL.com. “After we played Russia I thought our confidence came up a bit. The way we played against the Slovaks was obviously a huge confidence-builder. After that, I mean, we were a confident bunch.
“We felt we got a few more tricks up our sleeves. Again, the quarterfinals at the Olympics is really well done for us.”
Dec 21, 2014, 5:00 PM EST
Will Calvin Pickard be sent to the minors once Varlamov is healthy?
Dec 21, 2014, 3:45 PM EST
Rob Zepp makes NHL debut
Dec 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EST
Collapsed on the team’s bench Saturday night.
Dec 21, 2014, 2:15 PM EST
Was fired by the Oilers Dec. 15.
Dec 21, 2014, 1:30 PM EST
The 33-year-old was recalled Friday.
Dec 21, 2014, 12:45 PM EST
The Penguins forward was penalized twice for embellishment on Saturday.
Dec 21, 2014, 12:00 PM EST
Torrey Mitchell and Tyson Strachan have been placed on IR
Dec 21, 2014, 11:15 AM EST
They’re not impressed with how Bylsma and his staff were treated.
Dec 21, 2014, 10:30 AM EST
He called it “no big deal”
Dec 21, 2014, 9:45 AM EST
Had just one goal in eight games prior to the injury.
Dec 21, 2014, 1:18 AM EST
Christopher Tanev scored the overtime winner on his birthday.
Dec 21, 2014, 12:33 AM EST
Vancouver reported it’s holding him out of the rest of the game for precautionary reasons.
Dec 20, 2014, 11:51 PM EST
Minnesota has won five of its last 13 games.
Dec 20, 2014, 11:20 PM EST
They had pulled their goaltender on a delayed penalty.
Dec 20, 2014, 11:05 PM EST
Stamkos hopes this loss will serve as a wake up call.
Dec 20, 2014, 10:43 PM EST
Ray Emery certainly got a lot of offensive help with Steve Mason out.
Dec 20, 2014, 10:17 PM EST
Montreal beat Ottawa 4-1.
Dec 20, 2014, 9:55 PM EST
It’s the third time this month New Jersey has been goalless.
Dec 20, 2014, 9:35 PM EST
Calvin Pickard had another great game.
Dec 20, 2014, 9:08 PM EST
It’s been a heated game between Pittsburgh and Florida.
- Giroux line takes Leafs ‘to school’ in Flyers’ 7-4 victory 15
- Wolverine Pacioretty gets two assists just two days after being hospitalized 16
- Ovechkin scores beauty as Caps shutout Devils 7
- Seriously? Stress fracture sidelines Columbus’ Jenner for 1-2 months 6
- Julien chides Bruins’ offense for too many cute plays 40
- Sens roll over Ducks, who ‘weren’t ready’ 11
- Flyers’ Mason tweaked back, will miss weekend games 10
- Gordie Howe makes ‘amazing’ recovery following stem cell treatment in Mexico 15
- Video: Penguins’ spoof of ‘Christmas Vacation’ is pretty good 18
- Mason hurt, helped off ice at end of Flyers practice 8