Teams from Austria and Finland will meet in Helsinki, Finland, from Saturday (31 January) with the aim of securing the final slot at the 2015 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships B-Pool.
Austria and Finland, both currently C-pool teams, will play the best of three games at the Malmi ice rink.
Two match-ups will be played on Saturday with another scheduled for Sunday (1 February) if a result is not decided after the first clashes.
The Austrian national team recently met players from the Finnish team at the 2014 Ice Sledge Hockey International Tourney in Elblag, Poland, where they played Helsinki Karhu-Kissat. That ended in a tantalising 0-0 draw.
“In that tournament, we were able to experience that we had already caught-up [with more established teams], but still lacked a bit of wit and luck,” Peter Fasching, Austria’s national team manager said.
“Zdenek Vanek [team coach] thinks that we have a 50:50 chance in Helsinki. Our ultimate aim is that the team will participate in the World Championships, and that they will have the best form on the day to be able to implement tactical instructions completely. Vanek estimates that both teams have an equal chance of winning.”
Finland’s head coach Petri Ryhanen believes that the home ice will give his team the edge.
“We know that as a team we are equal with Austria,” Ryhanen said. “We have our home court and I hope it will give us self-confidence for the games.
“The bottom line is which team is able to control the mind. We have prepared as well as possible and we are ready for our team’s most important games ever.”
The B-Pool World Championships will take place in Ostersund, Sweden, between 15-21 March.
South Korea, Great Britain, Slovakia and Poland and the host nation Sweden are already chalked to compete.
The 2015 season will also feature the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships A-Pool in Buffalo, New York, USA.