Slovenian hockey players said goodbye to the elite division with seven defeats. Kazakhstan came out on top 4-3 in the last round of Group B in Riga after the Lynx took the lead three times.
The wish that the showdown with Kazakhstan would decide the passenger to a lower rank of the competition did not come true. The lynx wasted their chances of survival even before the last game in the championship.
The Slovenians thus played only for pride, as did the Kazakhs, who no longer had a chance to qualify for the knockout stages. However, they remain among the elite of world hockey as the only Asian team.
Slovenia played in the elite division for the tenth time, but only twice, in 2002 and 2005. After today’s defeat, Slovenia is the only team at this WC that did not win a single point.
Coach Matjaž Kopitar decided that the third goalkeeper Žan Us will step between the goals for the first time in Arena Riga.
The Lynx got off to a great start and took the lead after 90 seconds when Anže Kuralt effectively finished off a counterattack. When Aleksandar Magovac sat on the penalty bench due to tripping, the Kazakhs equalized in the 19th minute. Barys Astana striker Nikita Mihailis was accurate.
In the 22nd minute, the Lynx took the lead again. Kuralt brilliantly hit the puck in the air in front of Andrej Šatov’s goal. Kazakhstan was not dangerous on the five-on-five game, but it shone on the “power play”. In the last minute of the second period, Batirlan Muratov tied the score at 2:2 when Jan Urbas was sent off.
In the 43rd minute, Žiga Pance put the puck in front of the goal, Niko Simšič’s shot was deflected by Šatov, and Jan Drozg put the puck into the net. It was his third goal of this championship, he scored twice against Canada. In the 52nd minute, Yevgenij Rimarev equalized after a counterattack, when he threatened Us with a backhand. The decision was made in the 57th minute, when Mihailis found Maksim Muhametov on the right side, who put the puck under the crossbar with an exceptional backhand.
The final ratio of shots on goal was 32:26.
RIGA, Group B:CANADA – NORWAY ** 2:3 (0:1, 1:1, 1:0) Lucic 29th, Crouse 60th; Martinsen 10th, Olden 22nd ** – after penalty kicks
KAZAKHSTAN – SLOVENIA 4:3 (1:1, 1:1, 2:1) Mihailis 19th, Muratov 40th, Rimarev 52nd, Muhametov 57th; Kuralt 2nd, 22nd, Drozg 43rd.
TAMPERE, Group A: DENMARK – SWEDEN 1:4 (1:1, 0:1, 0:2) Jensen 4th; Everberg 14th, Petersson 33rd, Raymond 53rd, Grundstöm 55th.
AUSTRIA – HUNGARY** 4:3 (1:2, 2:1, 0:0) Rossi 13th, Strong 27th, Haudum 38th; Sofron 9th, 20th, Horvath 25th ** – after penalty shots