Bulgaria’s first major hockey event of the season began in dominating fashion, beating Georgia 9-1 to move on to the first official round of the Olympic Qualifiers next month.

Playing in a winner-takes-all style contest, Bulgaria came in as the clear favourites to move on to Group K, one of the two groups participating in the first round of the Olympic Qualifiers.

Bulgaria, currently ranked 39th in the IIHF World Rankings, do actually have Olympic experience. Ranked 14th at the time, Bulgaria played at the 1976 event in Innsbruck, Austria, finishing with zero points while allowing 38 goals in five games.

Bulgaria’s hockey history isn’t new. In fact, the team first participated back in 1942, beating Yugoslavia 4-2 in their debut contest. The team has not had much success in their past, however, with just two ever tournament titles in their history. The last time Bulgaria played Georgia back in 2014 at the Division III World Championships, the pre-game favourites easily came ahead with the 19-1 victory, helping them earn a spot in the Division IIB World’s for 2015. Bulgaria was able to stick around in DIIB for another year despite a poor performance, keeping themselves up after a fourth place finish.

For Georgia, their first attempt at an Olympic qualifier tournament was ended shortly after the loss on Saturday. Georgia did win two games at the most recent World Championships, defeating Bosnia and Herzegovina 4-1 for their first victory, only to follow that up with a surprise 5-4 win over the United Arab Emirates in the next game.

Bulgaria, the 35th ranked team in the Olympic Qualifiers, will face Estonia (28), Mexico (31) and Israel (32) in Tallinn, Estonia from November 5th-8th.

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