Two goals from Vaclav Stupka proved to be the difference on Saturday, as a 5-3 victory over Slovenia would give Slovakia the championship at the 2016 Euro Ice Hockey Challenge tournament in Austria.
Featuring a team made up of players most NHL fans aren’t familiar with, Slovakia managed to take the tiebreaker over Slovenia, featuring much of their World Championship roster, thanks to winning the final game. It was a close competition, as both France and Austria finished with a victory each in the three day, six-game tournament.
An early power play goal for the Slovakian’s helped set the pace. Radoslav Macik got Slovakia on the board first with a shot that Luca Gracnar couldn’t stop, giving Slovakia the 1-0 lead after just 1:37 of play.
Slovenia quickly fought back with a power play goal of their own. With Juraj Majdan off for tripping, Miha Verlic did his job by getting the puck behind Samuel Baros, tying the game for the first, and only time, in the contest.
It would take another eight minutes to find someone who could take the lead. Lukas Paukovek would give Slovakia the 2-1 lead, only to have Vaclav Stupka give his team the big 3-1 lead heading into the first intermission.
Slovakia’s winning goal came just five minutes into the second. Vaclav Stupka would finish off the game for Slovakia, who would score one more thanks to Andrej Kudrna in the third period. Slovenia would get two more in the second, but Stupka’s goal was the decider as Slovakia escaped with the 5-3 victory to win the Austrian leg of the tournament.
Despite just finishing with the silver medal, Slovenia would finish with two forwards tying for first in tournament scoring. Rok Ticar and Ken Ograjensek would both record four points in the tournament, getting two each against Austria in their opening 6-2 victory over Austria.
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