OLYMPICS: Slovenian Ice Hockey Team Having Olympic Debut
Ljubljana, 6 February - The Sochi Games will be the first Olympic tournament for the Slovenian national men's ice hockey team in their history, a dream-come-true that will see NHL star Anže Kopitar and his team mates compete against the hockey powerhouses US, Russia and Slovakia.
The Slovenian team, nicknamed the Bobcats, qualified for their first Olympic tournament, which features twelve nations, by beating Denmark in a qualifying tournament in Vojens in February 2013.
The team's biggest star is Kopitar, who has been playing for the Los Angeles Kings of the NHL since 2006, while it is captained by Tomaž Razingar, who will bear Slovenia's flag at the opening ceremony on 7 February.
Besides Kopitar, who won the Stanley Cup with the LA Kings in 2012, the roster of 25 players also features Jan Muršak of the Russian KHL, the world's second-strongest ice hockey league, Robert Sabolič (ERC Ingolstadt) and Žiga Jeglič (Södertälje SK).
Slovenia will play in Group A along with the US, Russia and Slovakia. Group B features Finland, Canada, Norway and Austria, while Group C will see the Czech Republic, Sweden, Switzerland and Latvia. Slovenia will open against Russia on 13 February.
Slovenia are the lowest ranking team at the tournament according to the IIHF World Ranking, and are considered a huge underdog in their group in terms of chances of advancing to the quarter-finals.
The team's biggest success so far at major tournaments is the 13th place in the Championship division at the Ice Hockey World Championships in 2002 and 2005. It is coached by Anže Kopitar's father Matjaž Kopitar.
Slovenia's national ice hockey team roster for the Sochi Olympics:
Robert Kristan, Luka Gračnar, Andrej Hočevar, Aleš Kranjc, Miha Robar, Blaž Gregorc, Sabahudin Kovačević, Andrej Tavželj, Klemen Pretnar, Žiga Pavlin, Matic Podlipnik, Anže Kopitar, Jan Muršak, Marcel Rodman, Žiga Jeglić, Rok Tičar, Robert Sabolič, Tomaž Razingar (captain), Jan Urbas, Boštjan Goličič, Aleš Mušič, Žiga Pance, Miha Verlič, Anže Kuralt