Slovenia closes with a victory
by Adam Steiss|29 AUG 2021
photo: Mathias Dulsrud

Rok Ticar scored the game winner as Slovenia outshot Korea 43-18 en route to a 4-1 win in both teams' closing game of the Men’s Final Olympic Qualification Group F.

With nothing to play for but pride after being eliminated from the possibility of qualifying for the 2022 Olympic Games, Korea and Slovenia took the opportunity to get the measure of one another in anticipation of a fight to earn a spot in the top division World Championship at the 2022 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A, set to take place in Ljubljana next spring.

“The situation was definitely not ideal, but I think throughout this tournament we didn’t have great starts but showed a lot of character after,” said team captain Anze Kopitar. “It was pretty important to us not to go 0-3.”

Korea played with tenacity and a sense of purpose in the opening period, and just as in their first two games against Denmark and Norway were able to score the first goal of the game. After weathering some intense pressure from Slovenia in the first ten minutes, the Koreans scored with 57 seconds remaining in the frame with Jin Huo Ahn burying the rebound after a great paddle save from Matija Pintaric.

But after playing mistake-free hockey through half the game penalty trouble got it the Koreans’ way in the second, as a major high sticking penalty to Sangwook Kim allowed Slovenia to get two quick goals on the man advantage to go up 2-1, courtesy of Ziga Jelcic and Rok TIcar. Then on a rush Robert Sabolic got off a shot on net and then slotted home his own rebound for the two-goal lead.

Korea had an opportunity to get back into the game in the third as Slovenia took three consecutive penalties but couldn’t convert. An empty-netter from captain Anze Kopitar sealed the 4-1 victory for the Slovenes.

Although the Olympics are not in the horizon, the teams will get together next year once more when Slovenia hosts the Division I Group A World Championship next year.

"We really appreciate this opportunity, because we have not played together for a long time," said Ahn. "We were happy to play here and to take advantage of the opportunity."