Slovakiaís womenís team scored the biggest upset in the modern history of Olympic ice hockey qualifications by advancing to the Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver 2010. They will be seeded into the same group as defending Olympic champion Canada. The other qualified team, China, joins the group headed by USA.
Slovakia Ė 17th in the IIHF Womenís World Ranking Ė was the lowest ranked of all eight womenís teams that took part in the November 6-9 qualification tournaments, yet swept Group C in Bad TŲlz, defeating host Germany (7th) 1-0, Kazakhstan (10th) 2-0 and France (11th) 3-1.
Slovakia not only became the lowest ranked womenís team ever to earn its spot in an Olympic ice hockey tournament, but also clinched the Olympic spot just two days into the tournament. Slovakia had previously won Group A of the Pre-Qualification, September 2-7.
Sensational goaltender Zuzana Tomcikova turned away 62 shots to post consecutive shut-outs against Germany and Kazakhstan on Thursday and Saturday. Tomcikova was given a rest for the final game against France on Sunday.
China was the other team to secure Olympic participation. The team, ranked 8th in the world, swept Group D in Shanghai, China, by defeating Norway (5-0), the Czech Republic (4-3) and Japan (2-0).
The two Olympic womenís groups in Vancouver are as follows:
Womenís Olympic ice hockey tournament in Vancouver, Canada, February 13-25, 2010:
Group A: Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia.
Group B: United States, Finland, Russia, China.
In menís Olympic Pre-Qualifications, Kazakhstan, Hungary and Japan advanced to the Final Olympic Qualification. All game reports and statistics from the menís pre-qualification tournaments can be found on IIHF.com.
Menís Final Olympic Qualification on February 5-8, 2009. (The numbers in brackets indicate the teamís placing in the IIHF World Ranking.)
Group E: Germany (10), Slovenia (15), Austria (16), Japan (22). Host: Hanover, Germany
Group F: Latvia (11), Italy (14), Ukraine (17), Hungary (20). Host: Riga, Latvia
Group G: Norway (12), Denmark (13), France (18), Kazakhstan (19). Host: Oslo, Norway
Finally, the three winners from these single round-robin Final Olympic Qualification tournaments will be seeded into one of the three groups for the menís ice hockey tournament at XXI Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver.
Menís Olympic ice hockey tournament in Vancouver, Canada, February 16-28, 2010:
Group A: Canada (1), United States (6), Switzerland (7), Qualifier 3.
Group B: Russia (2), Czech Republic (5), Slovakia (8), Qualifier 2.
Group C: Sweden (3), Finland (4), Belarus (9), Qualifier 1.
Seeding key: The winning team from the Final Qualification tournament with the best 2008 IIHF World Ranking number will be seeded into Olympic Group C, the team with the second-best IIHF World Ranking number will go to Olympic Group B and the team with the third-best ranking number will be slotted into Olympic Group A.
Click here for an overview of the Olympic qualifying structure.
The schedules for the womenís and menís Olympic ice hockey tournaments will be announced in late December 2008 or early January 2009.