clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Winter Olympics 2014: Slovenia stuns Slovakia for first Olympic win

Slovenia dominated Slovakia on Saturday to earn its first win in Olympic play.

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

SB Nation 2014 Winter Olympic Coverage

What in the world has happened to the Slovakian hockey program?

After finishing in fourth place just four years ago at the Vancouver Olympics, Slovakia has been perhaps the worst team through two games of the 2014 tournament. As if their blowout loss to the United States on Thursday wasn't bad enough, they were completely dominated by Slovenia on Saturday in a 3-1 loss.

For Slovenia, it was its first win in Olympic play, following a surprisingly strong performance against Russia in its debut.

This game wasn't close as Slovenia controlled it right from the start, even though it was scoreless through two periods.

Slovenia finally broke through in the third period with three goals in under seven minutes, including an incredible individual effort from its lone NHL player, Anze Kopitar.

And speaking of Kopitar, if there was ever any doubt as to just how good he is, it should be gone after watching him over the first two games of this tournament. He has logged a ton of minutes (he played 26:50 on Saturday) and has been the best player on the ice nearly every shift he has taken, and has almost single-handedly made Slovenia competitive. He may have only factored into one of their four goals, but there is a noticeable difference in their play when he is on the ice (and more often than not, he is on the ice).

Along with Kopitar, Slovenia also received goals from Rok Ticar and team captain Tomaz Razingar on Saturday, whose goal turned out to be the game-winner.

But let's get back to Slovakia for a minute, as the wheels continue to fall off for them at the 2014 Olympics.

Just four years ago they were playing for a medal. Four years before that they went 5-0 in group play. Combined, they entered this year's tournament 8-4-1 with a 41-29 goal differential in their previous two Olympics appearances.

This year they're not only 0-2, they've been outscored 10-2, and their only two goals consist of one that should not have counted due to a badly missed offside call by the officials in their loss to the United States, and a meaningless garbage time goal against Slovenia with 17 seconds to play in a game they trailed by three.

Yes, they are playing without Marian Gaborik and Lubomir Visnovsky, but there should still be enough talent here to remain at least somewhat competitive. But it hasn't been close to happening so far in Sochi.

Then again, perhaps this is just the beginning of the end for the team as a top contender at these international events because as starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak points out, it's not exactly a young team.

Based on what we've seen so far, it's hard to argue with that.

Slovenia wraps up group play on Sunday against the United States while Slovakia takes on Russia.

More on the Winter Olympics:

SB Nation's Winter Olympics medal tracker | Meet Team USA

Guy falls off skeleton sled, somehow doesn't die | #Lookit

Accidental Selfie Grandma is the star of the Olympics

Remembering the 1980 Miracle on Ice | Longform: Team USA's disaster in 1984

Hockey: Men’s schedule | All 12 men’s rosters | USA roster analysis