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Sochi 2014 Olympic Hockey Preview: Team Austria

Image Courtesy: goironpigs.com

Image Courtesy: goironpigs.com

Austria is far from a hockey power and a surprise entry into the Olympic hockey tournament. A country of approximately 8 million people, it is known more for alpine skiing and soccer than hockey. Remarkably, Austria’s national hockey team finds itself in the Olympic Games, with the top 12 hockey playing countries in the world.

Round robin opponents

Austria will be compete in group B with Canada, Finland and Norway. This is an ideal group for one of the minnows of the hockey world. They will be in tough against Canada and Finland, but a win against Norway is not out of the question by any means.

How they got here

In order to qualify for the Olympics, you need to be ranked in the top nine of the IIHF world rankings, or win one of three qualifying groups. Austria was ranked 15th in the world, so they had an uphill climb in order to make it to the Olympics for the first time since 2002.

Austria matched up against Italy, the Netherlands and Germany during the final qualification round. Germany was favoured, but had to play without NHL talents such as Thomas Greiss, Christian Ehrhoff, Dennis Seidenberg, Marcel Goc and Alexander Sulzer. Austria, for their part, were without Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner.

Germany was upset by Italy in the round robin, which set-up a final game between Austria and Germany where by Austria needed only to force Germany to overtime in order to qualify. Just like Latvia, Austria earned a spot into the Olympics with an overtime loss.

Notable players

Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner will be counted on to score goals for Austria. Michael Raffl of the Philadelphia Flyers is the only other Austrian currently in the NHL.

Outlook

Just making the Olympic tournament was an accomplishment for Austria, but they will have a chance to make some noise in the tournament. A win over Canada or Finland isn’t realistic, but a win over Norway in the round robin is within reach. If they are able to beat Norway that could set-up a winnable qualification round matchup against Switzerland or Slovakia. If they can do that, then they have a chance to reach the quarterfinals.

Other Roster Previews:

November 11: Russia

November 12: USA

November 13: Sweden

November 14: Czech Republic

November 18: Slovakia

November 19: Switzerland

November 20: Finland

November 21: Canada

November 26: Latvia

November 28: Austria

December 2: Norway

December 3: Slovenia

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1 Response to Sochi 2014 Olympic Hockey Preview: Team Austria

  1. Austria Hockey Will Try For Gold at Sochi in Group B | Thrive Sports on December 3, 2013

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