International Ice Hockey Federation

Slovakia stands tall

Open U18s with big upset of Sweden

Published 17.04.2015 18:48 GMT+2 | Author Adam Steiss
Slovakia stands tall
Slovakia played an excellent defensive game against Sweden. Photo: Matt Zambonin / HHOF-IIHF Images
We’re starting to sense a pattern here from the Slovaks, going back to the start of the year.

Utilizing a top-level performance from their goaltender and just enough scoring, Slovakia posted its first win against Sweden at a U18 World Championship since 2007. Marek Hecl had the game winner in the upset as Slovakia earned the 3-1 win its opening game at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship.

Slovakia’s play was reminiscent of the country's World Junior squad, who just four months ago earned a bronze medal that no one expected at the 2015 World Junior Championship, on the strength of excellent play from goaltender Denis Godla. This time is was Adam Huska who was the hero between the pipes for the Slovaks, making tons of great stops and allowing just one goal to Sweden.

"I got a lot of shots from them early in the game," said Huska. "It calmed me down and gave me confidence, and the defence played great. It was a great start for us today."

The surprise Slovaks, after being dominated by Sweden in the opening period, came into the third up 1-0 thanks to a late second period score from Samuel Solinski. The Slovaks didn’t let up, getting physical and frustrating the Swedes into taking penalties.

Just past the 15-minute mark, a shot by Sweden’s Rasmus Asplund from the right circle was deflected by Joel Eriksson Ek in front of the net, tying the game up 1-1.

But with exactly four minutes on the clock, a Swedish breakout attempt was interrupted at centre ice when Boris Sadecky intercepeted the puck and took off for the net with linemate Marek Hecl. Sadecky found Hecl with a pass and Hecl slotted it home giving Slovakia the one-goal lead once more with time ticking away. Swedne pulled their goalie with a minute and a half left, but never seriously threatened Huska's net the rest fo the way.

"Can't say enough about (Huska) today, his play gave us all a big push," said Hecl.

Sweden controlled the puck from the outset, keeping the Slovaks hemmed into their own zone. At the other end goaltender Felix Sandstrom had little to do for the opening 20 minutes, facing just eight shots on net from Slovakia, and only one serious attempt from Filip Lestan on a two-on-one.

But Slovakia started to find its game as Huska held the fort through the opening period, and the team was able to put more pressure in Sandstrom in the second. Husak’s heroics in keeping Sweden out of the net paid off as Slovakia scored late in the second, forward Samuel Solinski getting the puck in front of the net and popping it in over Sandstrom’s glove. The goal took away Sweden's momentum for the rest of the game.

"Their goaltender was great today and they were better than us at scoring goals," said Swedish head coach Jim Brithen.

Team Sweden will have a day off before its second preliminary round game Saturday against Germany. Slovakia drew a tough set of opening games, and will have to take on defending U18 champions the United States Friday in Lucerne.

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