In its first Olympics, Slovenia fittingly got the first hockey win in its history, defeating Slovakia 3-1 early on Saturday morning.
From Fox Sports Live:
HISTORY!! In just their 2nd game, SLOVENIA gets their 1st-ever Olympic men's hockey victory defeating Slovakia 3-1. #Sochi2014— FOX Sports Live (@FOXSportsLive) February 15, 2014
The game was scoreless for the first two periods before Slovenia shockingly scored three straight goals on Slovakia. Rok Ticar opened the scoring 3:23 seconds into the period on the power play, while Tomaz Razingar and Anze Kopitar—the lone NHL player on Slovenia's roster—scored within 23 seconds of one another halfway through the period.
Slovenia outshot Slovakia, 31-28. The Slovakians had plenty of chances on the power play, as Slovenia was penalized five times in the game, but the Slovakians only managed one goal with the man advantage, and the game was well out of reach by that point.
Goalkeeper Robert Kristan was excellent throughout, stopping the first 27 shots he faced, though he would lose his shutout with just 18 seconds remaining, as Tomas Jurco ripped a shot past him. Kristan looked pained in the goal after that tally, but seconds later his disappointment at losing the shutout quickly turned to joy, as he celebrated with his team on the ice.
Meanwhile, Slovakia's goalie, Jaroslav Halak, has now given up eight goals in Slovakia's first two games.
It's important to note that this isn't just an upset because of Slovenia's lack of experience in Olympic hockey or even because of having just one NHL player on the roster. Rather, Slovakia was expected to be much more competitive coming into this tournament than it's been in a 7-1 loss to the United States and now a 3-1 loss to Slovenia.
From Bruce Arther of the National Post:
Slovakia was one goal away from Canada in the semi-finals four years ago, and got beaten by little Slovenia today.— Bruce Arthur (@bruce_arthur) February 15, 2014
Meanwhile, as Chris Johnston of Rogers Sportsnet found out, Slovakia's Zdeno Chara and Slovenia's Kristan had far different reactions after the game, as you might expect:
Slovakia loses to Slovenia. "Disappointment," says captain Zdeno Chara.— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 15, 2014
Slovenia goalie Robert Kristan, after a 3-1 win over Slovakia. "It's kind of a miracle."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) February 15, 2014
And Greg Beacham of The Associated Press caught up with Kopitar after the historic win:
Anze Kopitar: "I'm kinda speechless. So happy. This is going to stick with Slovenia for a long time."— Greg Beacham (@gregbeacham) February 15, 2014
While unlikely, Slovenia could still feasibly earn itself a bye in the knockout phase should it beat the United States on Sunday. It would probably need to beat the United States by a large margin to earn the bye based off of goal differential, however, so it is a long shot at best.
Slovakia, meanwhile, will try to stop the bleeding against a strong Russian team on Sunday. More than likely, the Slovakians will head into the knockout phase without a single win, marking a very disappointing campaign for the country to this point.