Team Austria Eager to Surprise at the Olympics

Ice-hockey enjoys great and ever growing popularity in Austria

Team Austria is one of the outsiders of the Olympic ice-hockey tournament. This fact is recognized by the Austrian ice-hockey community itself, as the local ice-hockey analyst, journalist and scout Hannes Biedermann admits in his Crunch Time blog. Nevertheless the game itself flourishes in the country – both in terms of clubs’ development and popularity among the sports audience. Still, despite the development of the sport in the country, the national team is a seldom participant of the Olympics and has not participated there since the 2002 Salt Lake City Games.

Success for Austria differs from success for Canada or Sweden

Thus, the fact that team Austria has qualified for the Olympic tournament in Sochi is a success in itself. This success, however, badly needs a confirmation by the team in the Olympic tournament. No matter if the Austrians qualify for the final round – their will for the victory will be much appreciated by the fans at home. Every goal scored by the team and every shot blocked and every game played to win will mean great success for the team.

A starry team will badly need hard-won games

If one takes a look at the team’s roster, the great potential of the team will become evident. It has players from the NHL and the strongest European hockey leagues. Thus, if the preparation time is effectively used, Austrians will have a mix of knowledge and skills gathered all over the world. Emanuel Viveiros, Canadian-born head coach with player experience in the NHL (Minnesota North Stars) and team Canada (1986), has already set his bets on the players. The final roster needs to be determined by the Natioanal Olympics Committee on January 27, so the report by the Austrian Ice-Hockey Federation (ÖEHV). At the presentation of the team Manny Viveiros has not disclosed tactics or strategy. Instead he characterized the spirit prevailing in the team: “All the players are proud to play for Austria, and all want to go from the ice victorious in every game.”

Thomas Vanek will have lots of responsibility playing for Austria at the 2014 Olympics  (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

Thomas Vanek will have lots of responsibility playing for Austria at the 2014 Olympics (Jeanine Leech/Icon SMI)

 

Currently the roster looks as follows:

Player

Club

 

            Goalies:
Starkbaum,   BernhardBrynäs (SWE)
Swette,   RenéEC KAC   (AUT)
Weinhandel,   FabianEC KAC   (AUT)
            Defense:
Altmann,   MarioEC VSV   (AUT)
Iberer,   FlorianEC KAC   (AUT)
Lakos,   AndreUPC   Vienna Capitals (AUT)
Lukas,   RobertEHC   LIWEST Linz   (AUT)
Pöck,   ThomasEC KAC   (AUT)
Trattning,   MathiasEC Red   Bull Salzburg   (AUT)
Ulmer,   StefanHC Lugano   (SUI)
Unterluggauer,   GerhardEC VSV   (AUT)
            Forwards:
Grabner,   Michael RenéNew York Islanders (USA)
Herburger,   RaphaelEHC Biel (SUI)
Hundertpfund,   ThomasTimra   (SWE)
Iberer,   MathiasEHC   LIWEST Linz   (AUT)
Koch,   ThomasEC KAC   (AUT)
Kristler,   AndreasEC Red   Bull Salzburg   (AUT)
Latusa,   ManuelEC Red   Bull Salzburg   (AUT)
Lebler,   BrianEHC   LIWEST Linz   (AUT)
Oberkofler,   DanielEHC   LIWEST Linz   (AUT)
Raffl,   MichaelPhiladelphia Flyers (USA)
Raffl,   ThomasEC Red   Bull Salzburg   (AUT)
Setzinger,   OliverHC   Lausanne (SUI)
Vanek,   ThomasNew York Islanders (USA)
Velser,   DanielEC Red   Bull Salzburg   (AUT)
            Reserve:
Lange,   MathiasIserlohn Roosters (GER)
Heinrich,   DominiqueEC Red   Bull Salzburg   (AUT)
Baumgartner,   GregorEHC   LIWEST Linz   (AUT)
Nödl, AndreasEC Red   Bull Salzburg   (AUT)
Peintner,   MarkusEC VSV   (AUT)
Petrik,   BenjaminEC VSV   (AUT)
Rotter,   RaphaelUPC   Vienna Capitals (AUT)
Schiechl,   MichaelUPC   Vienna Capitals (AUT)
Grabner to lead Team AUSTRIA in the 2014 Olympics (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Grabner to lead Team AUSTRIA in the 2014 Olympics (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Well-planned preparation is under way

In Group B the team will have to oppose Canada, Finland and Norway with the first game played against the Finns. That is why a pre-tournament friendly game against another Scandinavian team, Denmark, on the 4th of February seems to be a logical preparation move – the chances for wining at the Olympics exist against the Norwegians, they lessen versus the Finns and become minimal against the Canadians. Thus, playing against a Scandinavian team is very advisable while preparing for the tournament.

Still, the head coach would rightfully not agree with this overly sober analysis: “We go to Sotchi not only to participate and to enjoy nice days there. We want to take a next step in our development and to do our best against the great nations. Nothing is impossible. We do not give up before the fight begins,” so Viveiro. Even more than that, Viveiro acknowledged that he and his guys are going to Sochi for medals.


Vyacheslav Hnatyuk



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