VIENNA – Buffalo Sabres forward Thomas Vanek will join the recently promoted Austrian national team in Helsinki for the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
All details about logistics and insurance have been clarified, the Austrian Ice Hockey Association announced. He will join the team on 2nd May in Helsinki after the end of the NHL season with the Sabres.
Vanek is the most famous Austrian hockey player. He has been playing for the Sabres since 2005. In the shortened NHL season he had 20 goals and as many assists in 37 games making him the best goal scorer on his team and tenth overall in the NHL.
“His presence alone will strengthen the team,” head coach Manny Viveiros said. “It will be our highest priority to integrate him as soon as possible in our team. Before the first game against the USA we will have two days and two practices time for this.”
It will be the third World Championship in the top division for Vanek after Prague 2004 and Berne 2009. Additionally, he helped Austria earn promotion at the Division I event on home ice in Innsbruck in 2008.
In 23 games for the national team he scored ten goals and notched 13 assist points.
“I’m looking forward to finally being able to play for Austria again,” Vanek said. “I think the team showed in the Olympic Qualification that we have good players. Maintaining in the top division is our primary goal.”
The national team recently earned qualification to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games after ousting Germany on the opponent’s ice.
While Vanek will join the team in Helsinki, Michael Grabner will be busy since the New York Islanders reached the play-offs for the first time in six years, and the Carolina Hurricane’s Andreas Nödl has been out with an injury for the last two months.
Austria will play an exhibition game on Friday against Slovenia in Vienna and against Denmark on 30th April in Copenhagen before travelling to Helsinki.