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Slovenia reaches first-ever quarterfinals by beating Austria

Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men

Slovenia forward Anze Kopitar (11) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against Austria in the first period of a men’s ice hockey game at the 2014 Winter Olympics, Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

Julio Cortez

Slovenia isn’t far removed from celebrating its first ever men’s hockey win at the Olympics. Now they can add “make the quarterfinals” to that list of achievements, as they dispatched Austria 4-0 on Tuesday.

Slovenia will face top seed Sweden on Wednesday. The game begins at 3 a.m. ET.

Anze Kopitar, Jan Mursak, Sabahudin Kovacevic and Jan Urbas scored Slovenia’s goals while Robert Kristan recorded a 30-save shutout.

It’s been an impressive Olympic debut for Slovenia, a team that lacks much mainstream recognition beyond Los Angeles Kings center Kopitar. They lost to Russia, but didn’t get blown out at 5-2. That first win was 3-1 against Slovakia while they weren’t embarrassed by the U.S. either; Phil Kessel was explosive but the score was respectable at 5-1.

Beating Austria is another nice accomplishment, as they feature some substantial NHL names, particularly Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner.

Austria finishes 1-3 in the tournament, with a lone win coming against Norway. They have been shut out twice in Sochi.

At this point, Sweden ranks as heavy favorites, yet Slovenia has already achieved far more than anyone expected in its first-ever appearance in the men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins