Austria have been promoted to the B-Pool after a dramatic 1-0 win over Finland on penalties saw them take the 2016 IPC Ice Sledge Hockey World Championships C-Pool title in Novi Sad, Serbia, on Thursday (25 February).
Thomas Schilcher scored the lone goal, giving his team the 1-0 victory. For his performance, Schilcher was named Player of the Game. The promotion betters Austria’s chances of qualifying for the PyeongChang 2018 Paralympic Winter Games.
“It is very amazing for me and for our team because it was a very hard game, a very fair game,” said Austria’s Stefan Eberdorfer.
Austria was on the offense, taking 14 shots on goal – five from Jurgen Haindl – compared to Finland’s three. But Finnish goalkeeper Timo Karko managed to keep Austria in check after three periods and overtime, conceding the only goal in the penalty shootout.
Finland’s Markku Hirvela attempted two shots in in the third, and Jyrki Konola tried another, but to no avail at the end of regular time.
“This was great for all the teams because you can only learn and get better by competing,” Eberdorfer said. “Training is one thing, but playing and competing is another.”
Eberdorfer added that the opportunity to advance to the B-Pool will speed up the development process for Austria in the hope of reaching the next Paralympic Winter Games.
Aside from the action on the ice, a series of educational workshops are taking place to aid countries, players and coaches in their development as part of PyeongChang 2018’s Actualising the Dream project.
Earlier on in the day, sport managers, athletes and coaches were joined for lunch by the Serbian government. Concluding the four day competition and development camp will be a lecture for athletes and coaches.
Actualising the Dream includes a series of workshops and grants for equipment to improve winter sport around the world as part of the legacy of the next Paralympic Winter Games. It is a partnership with the Agitos Foundation, the development arm of the International Paralympic Committee.