The Slovak men's national ice hockey team is one of the major ice hockey powers in the world. As of 2008, the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), the world governing body of hockey, ranks them as the eighth best national team just behind Switzerland. The team is operated by the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation under general manager Peter Bondra, and head coach Ján Filc. In the last six years, Slovakia has won three medals at the World Championships including a gold medal in 2002. Slovakia has a total of 12,375 hockey players (0.23% of its population).
The Slovak national team was formed following the breakup of Czechoslovakia, as the country was split into the Czech Republic and Slovakia. For years, the Czechs kept control over how the national team was run, and even had quotas instituted to ensure a minimal participation of Slovak players on the Czechoslovakian national team. While the Czechs were allowed to compete at the highest pool (A), the IIHF ruled that because fewer players of the former Czechoslovak team were Slovaks, Slovakia would be required to start international play in pool C. However, Slovakia's play in the lower pools won it promotion to pool A by 1996.
In the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, the Slovak team was unable to use its NHL players in the preliminary round due to a scheduling conflict. This effected all of the smaller countries, but devastated the Slovak team as most of their players were coming from NHL teams. The NHL had decided to only allow their players to participate in the final medal round, and thus Slovakia failed to qualify finishing a disappointing 13th. This turn of events was troubling to the entire hockey community, and the rules were changed for the 2006 Winter games in Torino.
Notable Slovak national team members and current NHL players include Pavol Demitra of the Vancouver Canucks and Marián Gáborík of the New York Rangers, brothers Marián Hossa and Marcel Hossa, Miroslav Šatan, and the tallest player in NHL history Zdeno Chára. In the late 1990s, the St. Louis Blues placed Ľuboš Bartečko, Michal Handzuš, and Demitra on the same line. This trio became known as the "Slovak Pack," and were able to communicate in their native language without the opposition knowing what they were saying.
- 1994 - Finished in 6th place
- 1998 - Finished in 10th place
- 2002 - Finished in 13th place
- 2006 - Finished in 5th place (see roster)
- 2010 - Finished in 4th place
World Cup recordEdit
World Championship recordEdit
- 1994 - Finished in 21st place (winner of the "Pool C")
- 1995 - Finished in 13th place (winner of the "Pool B")
- 1996 - Finished in 10th place
- 1997 - Finished in 9th place
- 1998 - Finished in 7th place
- 1999 - Finished in 7th place
- 2000 - Won silver medal
- 2001 - Finished in 7th place
- 2002 - Won gold medal
- 2003 - Won bronze medal
- 2004 - Finished in 4th place
- 2005 - Finished in 5th place
- 2006 - Finished in 8th place
- 2007 - Finished in 6th place
- 2008 - Finished in 13th place
- 2009 - Finished in 10th place
2002 Gold MedallistsEdit
Forwards: Ľuboš Bartečko, Peter Bondra, Michal Handzuš, Miroslav Hlinka, Ladislav Nagy, Vladimír Országh, Žigmund Pálffy, Rastislav Pavlikovský, Róbert Petrovický, Peter Pucher, Radovan Somík, Jozef Stümpel, Miroslav Šatan, Róbert Tomík, Marek Uram.
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