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Slovenia beat Austria to return to the world's ice-hockey elite

Katovice, 29 April - Slovenia have defeated Austria 2:1 (1:1, 1:0, 0:0) at the World Championship Division I to return to the world's elite ice-hockey group, thus meeting the goal set before the tournament.

Sochi, Russia.
Slovenia's ice-hockey team at the Sochi Olympics in 2014.
Photo: Stanko Gruden/STA
File photo

The Slovenia-Austria match (Group A) was decisive for the return to the elite division, from where Slovenia were relegated last year.

It was only the first place that guaranteed direct advancement to the elite division championships in 2017.

It will, however, depend on the outcome of the elite division World Championships, which will be hosted by Russia in May, if the second-placed team makes it too.

Scoring for Slovenia today were Robert Sabolič and Ken Ograjenšek.

Of the five games they played in Poland's Katowice since Saturday, Slovenia have lost only one, against Poland.

Commenting on the victory of his team, coach Nik Zupančič said: "These are hard games because they are decisive. We all knew what was at stake, so we were nervous at first and they were therefore the first to score."

"Then we started playing as a team...I can't credit anyone in particular except team Slovenia," added Zupančič.

Congratulaing the opponents on the victory, Austrian coach Daniel Ratushny said that "Slovenia played well".

But he added that his players also deserved to be congratulated "because they played perhaps the best match of the tournament".

Robert Sabolič, who scored the first point for Slovenia, agreed with Ratushny in that "Austria was a really good opponent".

His fellow player Miha Verlič said the team proved it could win if it played as a team, even if some key players had not played.

eho/eho
© STA, 2016