Earlier today in Helsinki, Finland, the Austrian national sledge hockey team beat the Finnish team 2 – 1 to qualify for the B Sledge Hockey World Championships qualifier .
Both teams were equally matched and played hard during the first two periods, but no one was able to put the puck in the net. The Finns took an 0 – 1 lead in early the third period, but Austria managed to score an equalizer. With time ticking down and only a few minutes left, Austria went ahead 2 – 1. After the goal, the whistle blew and the Austrian goalkeeper got a time penalty, and the Finnish side went up to six players on the ice. Despite being up for the last four minutes, they were unable to score and the game ended 2 – 1.
Following this series, the national team takes a bit of a break and players will return to their clubs for a bit, and then have a national camp at Liikuntakeskus Pajulahti in Nastola on February 28.
The Austrian roster drew exclusively from two Austrian club teams, the Carinthian Steelers and the Vienna Warriors. Goalkeeper Michael Ossimitz plays for the Steelers, and is the only goalkeeper the team is taking. Defensemen Thomas Schilcher and Stefan Eberdorfer play for the Steelers while Andreas Meixner plays for the Warriors. Forwards Jürgen Haindl and Martin Pachoinig also play for the Steelers, while Kai Habeler, Dennis Wliszczak and Stefan Reininger play for the Warriors. Franz Sailer is the team’s assistant coach.
Finland’s roster team included goalkeer Timo Karko, and forwarders and defenders Seppo Joensuu, Aki Alestalo, Markku Hirvelä, Harri Kangastie, Tuomas Manni, Jani Antero Roponen, Hannu Oksa, and Kari Seliverstow. The Finnish side is relatively old with Joensuu born in 1958, Hirvelä born in 1966, and Seliverstow born in 1962. The youngest player is Manni, who was born in 1996. The next youngest player is Kangastie who was born in 1984.
The qualifier was necessary because last month after Estonia withdrew from B World Championship. Placement at the competition is important because the top two teams will qualify for the A World Championship in 2017, and the last finisher will participate in the C World Championship, a new competition that debuts in 2016.