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Slovenia shocks Slovakia, gets first-ever men’s Olympic hockey win

Ice Hockey - Winter Olympics Day 8 - Slovakia v Slovenia

during the Men’s Ice Hockey Preliminary Round Group A game on day eight of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics at Bolshoy Ice Dome on February 15, 2014 in Sochi, Russia.

Bruce Bennett

So much for Slovenia’s men’s hockey team just being happy to participate in its first Olympics.

Anze Kopitar & Co. surprised Slovakia 3-1 on Saturday, giving Slovenia its first-ever win at this level.

The most stunning part - and most worrisome for Slovak hockey - is that this wasn’t really some miracle goaltending performance. Slovenia actually fired more shots on goal (31-28) in the game and Slovakia never held a lead, as they merely avoided being shut out with a 3-1 goal late in the third period.

VIDEO: Watch Slovenia’s impressive win

Rok Ticar scored the first goal, Tomaz Razingar got the game-winner and Anze Kopitar iced it with a 3-0 tally. Slovenia scored those three goals in a dizzying span that lasted about six minutes of game time. It’s the kind of game that may haunt more than a few Slovak hockey players, including Jaroslav Halak, who allowed three goals on 31 shots.

Slovenia’s team already came in on a relatively positive note in “only” losing to Russia 5-2, but now the country has a win that could very well make a difference in helping to boost the sport in a fledgling area.

Slovakia, meanwhile, has some soul-searching to do. Between this loss and the drubbing they received from the U.S., Zdeno Chara’s team has been dominated 10-2 in two defeats. While they will still get a chance to turn things around, this a disturbing start for a team some pegged to be a dark horse candidate.

For Slovenia, it’s a game many will never forget as they ready themselves for the U.S. tomorrow. Slovakia would like to do exactly the opposite - and fast - as they face Russia on Sunday.

Follow James O’Brien @cyclelikesedins