International Ice Hockey Federation

Pance lifts Slovenia

First period goal is enough

Published 12.05.2015 00:20 GMT+2 | Author John Sanful
Pance lifts Slovenia
OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC - MAY 11: Slovenia's Gasper Kroselj #32 makes a save with Ales Kranjc #28 and Denmark's Nichlas Hardt #43 battling in front during preliminary round action at the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/HHOF-IIHF Images)
Slovenia defeated Denmark 1-0 in the final game of the Preliminary Round of the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship for both teams.

Slovenia ends its six-game losing streak here at the CEZ Arena. It was their first win in a non-Relegation Round game in the top division.

Slovenia’s last win in World Championship play was in the Relegation Round at the 2011 tournament when they beat Latvia 5-2.

It was a strong finish to their tournament but Slovenia is still relegated back to Division I.

"As soon as we lost the last game we kind of set a new goal to hear our own national anthem at least once," Ziga Pance said.

With a strong first period, Slovenia took a 1-0 lead when a Sabahudin Kovacevic slap shot stayed low to the ice and was redirected by Pance at 10:00. Anze Kopitar also assisted on the play.

"We all did our best today. We had a couple more opportunities to score but one was good enough for the win," Pance said of the goal and the game.

The play was evenly matched and up and down the ice with few highly potent scoring opportunities. But when they had to, the goaltenders were ready and focused on the action in front of their nets.

Sebastian Dahm was back in net tonight after leading his team to their win over Norway. In five games in the tournament, Dahm has been a standout for his team. Gasper Kroselj started his second game for Slovenia. His previous appearance was a 4-0 loss to Finland last week.

In the third period, Denmark would have one last chance to get on the scoreboard and bring the game level. The first penalty of the game was called on Slovenia in the third period. Even with Klemen Pretnar in the penalty box, Denmark could not capitalize. In the waning seconds, Denmark tried to make something happen but the Slovenes would prevail.

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Both teams were remarkably disciplined with only three minors called in the game.

Denmark finishes with four points and a seventh place finish in Group B and acknowledging their good fortune in beating Norway. Had they not then this loss to Slovenia would have sent them down.

Denmark’s run in the top division of the World Championships continues on. They have put together an impressive body of work over the past twelve years among the top sixteen nations in hockey. While they’ve not had sustained success in consistently breaking through and challenging for playoff position, they have had their moments over these many years.

The win over Norway on Saturday was big and meant that instead of waiting to play Slovenia and have the last game decide matters, they faced their nemesis and decided their future in advance of today.

"It is disappointing to lose tonight but we are very happy with the way the tournament went," said Julian Jakobsen. "We wanted to make sure we were back in the top division in Russia next year."

In the end even with the addition of Kopitar, Slovenia could not muster any sustained offence or momentum. Nine goals in seven games gave a strong indication of their lack of success in finishing. Now they will have to go back to Division I and work to get back to the elite level.

The three best players of the tournament for Denmark were Sebastian Dahm, Daniel Nielsen and Patrick Bjorkstrand, for Slovenia Anze Kopitar, Sabahudin Kovacevic, Jan Mursak.

"We came here with the hope of staying in this division," said Pance. "We are sick and tired of going up and down but we gave away too many goals in this tournament, especially in the first period of games."