Slovenia battles Austria to open hockey knockout round

The Sports NetworkFebruary 17, 2014 

Sochi, Russia ( - Slovenia and Austria will battle in the first elimination game of the men's hockey tournament and the winner will reach the quarterfinals for the first time since the current Olympic format was adopted.

Slovenia finished as the eighth overall seed with a 1-2 mark in Group A. After battling Russia in a 5-2 loss to start the tournament, the Slovenes surprised Slovakia with a 3-1 win for their first-ever Olympic hockey victory. A 5-1 loss to the United States followed, but Slovenia carried play for a good portion of the first period and early in the second on Sunday against the Americans.

Anze Kopitar is the lone NHL player on the Slovenia roster. The Los Angeles Kings star has a goal and an assist through three games. Ziga Jeglic has a team-best two goals.

Austria finished third in Group B with a 1-2 mark and claimed the ninth seed for the elimination round. The Austrians opened with an 8-4 loss to Finland and dropped a 6-0 decision to Canada before winding up with a 3-1 triumph over Norway.

Michael Grabner of the New York Islanders has been Austria's top scorer, netting five goals with an assist in three games. Michael Raffl of the Philadelphia Flyers has a goal and two assists.

Tuesday's winner will face top-seeded Sweden in the quarterfinals.

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