January 19, 2018
The head coach of the Slovenian men's national ice hockey team Kari Savolainen unveiled on Friday a roster of 25 players who will compete at the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea in February, reported the STA on January 19, 2018.
Slovenia will play in Group B of the tournament, starting on 14 and concluding on 25 February, in the company of Slovakia and the world ice hockey powerhouses United States and Russia.
The Finnish coach presented the team at a press conference in Ljubljana along with assistant coach Nik Zupančič and the head of the national Ice Hockey Federation Dejan Kontrec.
As Slovenia will be without its best player, Anže Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings in the NHL, Jan Muršak is expected to be the staple of the team, along with veteran Marcel Rodman, who is returning to the national team.
The roster features only one player from the national league, Andrej Hebar from Olimpija Ljubljana, which means that the national champions Acroni Jesenice will not have its representative on the team.
Slovenia qualified for what will be their second Winter Olympics by winning a qualifying tournament in Minsk, Belarus in September 2016. The first Olympic tournament for Slovenia was in 2014 in Russia's Sochi.
"What is important for us is that all players are in a competitive shape and that they are healthy. It is also good that the players know each other well and that they don't need much time to click."
As regards Slovenia's ambition at the tournament, Zupančič was cautious. "Of course that the quarter-finals are the goal, but we first have to play three good matches."
Kontrec admitted that the organisation, travel and logistics was a tough job. "It was much easier in Sochi, where everything was within arm's reach, while there will be much more travel and logistics [in South Korea]."
Before opening the tournament against the United States, Slovenia will play a friendly with the South Korean team on 8 February.