EVEN though David did not beat Goliath, the Slovak underdog was the unexpected surprise of the whole IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, which took place in Finland and Sweden between May 4 and 20, 2012. Although Slovakia’s national team was not favoured at the beginning, it greatly surpassed the expectations of both fans and experts when it played for the gold.
“If someone told me after seven losses in the final pre-tournament phase that we will bring the medal from Helsinki, I would proclaim him a lunatic,” said Vladimír Vůjtek, the Slovak team coach from Czech Republic, as quoted by the Sme daily.
Despite the absence of several ice-hockey stars who had played for the national team in previous years, Slovakia succeeded in winning the medal for the first time since its bronze medal win, also in Helsinki, in 2003. The team’s relatively young players disproved doubts about the future of Slovak ice hockey by beating much stronger and more seasoned opponents.
“It’s a big day for Slovak hockey, and we can be proud,” said forward Mário Blizňák, as quoted by IIHF official report. “Without big stars we showed heart, so the future looks good.”