ZURICH – Apart from the Final Olympic Qualification and the Euro Hockey Tour’s LG Hockey Games in Stockholm, a few other national-team events took place last weekend.
Switzerland, Slovakia and Belarus – the nations ranked between the Euro Hockey Tour teams and the nations involved in the Olympic Qualification – played a series in Switzerland, where the 2009 World Championship takes place next spring.
The Swiss came away with a 3-0 record, beating Belarus 3-1 in Geneva and Slovakia 2-1 in Sierre. After the conventional matches, the Swiss then faced the Slovaks again in an open-air game. The game was in the alpine village of Gstaad in front of a sell-out crowd of 3,000. Switzerland won the snowy game, 4-3, in a shootout.
Slovakia beat Belarus 4-0 in the other game in Geneva.
Austrian women surprise at Mountain Cup
The Swiss also hosted a women’s four-nation tournament, the Mountain Cup in Romanshorn. Surprisingly, the tournament was won by Austria, which just joined Division I this year. After defeating the Swiss, 4-2, and Kazakhstan in a 2-1 shootout, Austria lost to Division I rival France 5-4 in a shootout but the one point was enough to win the tournament.
Another international women’s tournament will be played from February 13 to 15 in Segeltorp with host Sweden, Finland, Germany and Russia.
Swedish U19 team succeeds in Finland
Five European teams participated in an U19 tournament in Turku, Finland. The event was won by Sweden with the three victories coming over the Czech Republic (2-0), Switzerland (4-1) and Germany (5-2). The last game, a 5-4 shootout loss to host Finland, had no bearing on the final standings: 1. Sweden, 2. Czech Republic, 3. Finland, 4. Switzerland, 5. Germany.
U.S. win U18 and U17 tournament
The United States won an U18 tournament in Nyköping, Sweden, defeating Sweden (3-2), the Czech Republic (7-3), Finland (3-2), Russia (5-3). Team USA is undefeated this season with a 7-1-0-0 record after winning the Four Nations Cup on home ice in Lake Placid in November. Finland finished in second place ahead of Russia, Sweden and the Czech Republic.
USA Hockey also won the Vladimir Dzurilla U18 Tournament in Piestany, Slovakia. The under-aged American U17 team started with a 3-1 victory over Germany but lost their second game to Switzerland, 6-5 in a shootout. A 7-1 victory against host Slovakia sealed the tournament win for Team USA.
Final ranking: 1. USA, 2. Slovakia, 3. Switzerland, 4. Germany.
Another U18 four-nation tournament was played in Briançon, France. Italy won with a 2-1-0-0 record ahead of France, Slovenia and Austria.
Norway won a three-game series in Frederikshavn, Denmark, against the Danish U18 team with a 2-1 and 4-2 victory and a 6-1 defeat in the second game.
Belarus played two exhibition games in Riga, Latvia. The Latvians won the first game 3-2 in overtime, Belarus avenged with a 3-2 shoot-out win in the second meeting.
Poland won a two home games in Sosnowiec against Lithuania, 12-2 and 9-2.
Slovakian U17 edges Switzerland in Füssen
Four U17 teams played a tournament in Füssen, Germany. Slovakia and Switzerland were undefeated until they met each other. Slovakia’s 3-2 shootout win led them to the tournament win ahead of the Swiss. Germany finished in third place ahead of Denmark.