Blackhawks' Olympic Effort: Day 6
Today saw 8 of the men’s teams battle it out in qualifiers for the quarterfinals to play against the teams that already qualified: Sweden, USA, Canada, and Finland. The day started with Slovenia/Austria, which ended in a 4-0 win for Slovenia, a team that started off a bit shakily and seemingly found their feet. This is the first Olympics in which Slovenia has a men’s hockey team participating, and they’ll face Sweden in their quarterfinal.
The second game of the day was Russia/Norway, which, unsurprisingly, finished with Russia winning 4-0 over Norway. Rusia are advancing to the quarterfinals and will face Finland on Tuesday.
For the 9pm start in Sochi, there were two qualifying games happening at the same time. One was Michal Rozsival and Czech Republic against Marian Hossa, Michal Handzus and Slovakia. It was a game that started quickly, with a powerplay goal from Edmonton Oilers forward Ales Hemsky 6 minutes in, putting Czech Republic on the scoreboard. This goal would be followed barely 30 seconds later by a second one for the Czechs, scored by Roman Cervenka. David Krejci, of the Boston Bruins, would close out the scoring for the first period, making the game a 3-0 affair after 20 minutes.
The second would start strong for Slovakia, with a solid penalty kill on both Marian Hossa and Zdeno Chara’s penalties, but the Czechs would still manage to get another goal in, 15 minutes into the period, a second one from Cervenka. The Slovakians, however, would respond 3 minutes later, with a goal from Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa. The period would end 4-1 for Czech Republic.
The third period saw a surge from Slovakia, with two goals earlier on in the period, the first by Marian Hossa, his second of the night, and another by Tomas Surovy. It’d reduce the Czechs’ lead by 1 goal only. The late game surge of the Slovakians was led on by the Blackhawks on the ice, leading their national team’s offence to try and tie the game before the end of regulation.
Slovakia held on for most of the period, but a minute before the end of the game, they called back their goaltender Jan Laco for a 6-men offence, but the Czechs took possession of the puck and scored an empty-netter, finishing the game 5-3. Czech Republic will go on facing the USA in their quarterfinals.
The second 9pm game was Latvia against Switzerland, which produced a surprising first period, with Latvia scoring twice in the first 20, when Switzerland’s defence had been stellar throughout the first round of games, with goaltender Jonas Hiller of the Anaheim Ducks proving very solid for them.
The second period would see Switzerland scoring, a goal from Martin Pluss which would be the only goal of the period, and would force the Latvians to try and hang on to their lead. Ultimately, Latvia’s Lauris Darzins scored a 3rd goal with a minute remaining in the game, mounting an upset to the Switzerland team, who came in as favorites in this game. Latvia will face Canada in the quarterfinals.