International Ice Hockey Federation

Asterix: The Hockey Way

Asterix: The Hockey Way

Size isn’t everything! Slovenia shone in Sochi

Published 25.04.2017 15:10 GMT+2 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Asterix: The Hockey Way
Like Asterix at the Olympics, Slovenia showed guts and achieved glory at the 2014 Winter Games. Photo: Editions Albert René, Jeff Vinnick / HHOF-IIHF Images
Size isn’t everything. It’s how you use it. Just ask the shrewd, cunning little warrior Asterix – and the never-say-die hockey nation of Slovenia!

Leading up to the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, we’re dedicating one article to each day of the tournament, making a tongue-in-cheek comparison between an Asterix comic book and famous aspects of international hockey history.

In Asterix and the Olympic Games, it might appear that our hero has little chance of success when he travels to Greece to take part. After all, he’s facing well-trained opponents from the host Hellenes and the mighty Roman army. As a Roman official proclaims: “We have here the flower of the Roman Legions! Athletes picked from all the garrisons of the Roman Empire! No one can beat us!”

Similarly, Slovenia, which faces Norway on this date at the Worlds, was considered highly unlikely to make it to the quarter-finals at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Seeded 17th in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Ranking at the time, this Central European country has fewer than 150 registered male players and has never finished higher than 13th at an IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Even with their lone NHL superstar, Anze Kopitar, in the lineup, the Slovenes were projected to finish last in Group A versus the NHL-stocked rosters of the United States, Russia, and Slovakia!

In both cases, a funny thing happened on the way to the playoffs. However, we’re not talking about an easy road. Despite his best efforts, Asterix initially finds himself unable to keep up against the tough Spartans. And Slovenia lost 5-2 to host Russia in its opener. 

But then the Slovenes bounced back with a 3-1 shocker over Slovakia! That put them through to the qualification playoff game that preceded the quarter-finals. And just as Asterix’s success would be predicated both on his creativity and courage and his opponents’ weaknesses, so would Slovenia’s.

Asterix ends up winning his big race after the Romans fall into bad habits, partying and drinking. Similarly, Slovenia trounced Austria 4-0 in the qualification playoff game, and it was revealed afterwards that some Austrians had enjoyed the nightlife a little too much before that crucial match.

How could Slovenia make it to the final eight with so few top players to choose from? “We’ve got 25 really good ones,” explained Kopitar. Yes, the Slovenes lost 5-0 to Sweden in the quarter-final to end their Cinderella run, but their Olympics were already a major success.

Funnily enough, it was Austria that Slovenia defeated again in Division I play last year to earn promotion to the 2017 Worlds! (Not so funny for the Austrians, perhaps, but they'll be back.)

This is a 17-part series prior to the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, of which Asterix and Obelix are the official mascots. Click on News to find the stories.


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