With Slovenia’s victory today against the previously undefeated Austrians, as well as Japan’s disappointing shootout failure, the 2015 World Hockey Championships will feature the two most recently relegated countries when the main tournament heads to the Czech Republic next year.
Austria headed into the final game with a slot already clinched thanks to Japan’s loss earlier in the day to the Hungarians. Regardless, that didn’t mean they would put any less of an effort against the Slovenians, who needed a victory against Austria to take advantage of Japan’s misfortunes.
The Slovenians felt a little bit of urgency as soon as the puck was dropped, outshooting Austria 13-10 while still making sure to not allow their opponents any room to exploit them. Each team would pot a goal in the second period to make the thrilling final game tied heading into the third period, which was all Slovenia thanks to two goals. Austria wouldn’t be able to get another one past Slovenian star goaltender Luka Gracnar, who, despite being considered the second best Slovenian goalie behind Robert Kristan, managed to snag the Most Valuable Player award thanks to two shutouts and just four goals against.
Both teams will compete in the top division after both feeling the wrath of relegation at the conclusion of the tournament. The drive for survival will be evident in the Czech Republic next year as Slovenia hasn’t stuck in the main tournament in back to back years since 2005/2006, while Austria haven’t been up there in consecutive years since their seven year span from 1998-2004.
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