From time to time, TheIHLC.com will feature detailed recaps and boxscores of some of the most legendary games in international hockey history, considered to be “IHLC Classics.” Today, in honour of Slovakian Constitution Day, we feature Slovakia’s historic first World Championship Gold Medal from 2002, a stunning upset over Russia less than a decade after gaining independence.
When Czechoslovakia split into Czechia and Slovakia on January 1, 1993, the IIHF decided that the team lineage would continue with the Czechs, meaning that while the Czechs could continue in the Top Division and retain their spot at the 1994 Olympics, the Slovaks would be forced to start from the bottom, joining Pool C of the World Championship in 1993.
It should have taken a generation for Slovakia to reach the top, to rejoin the ranks of the best teams in the world and establish a championship program. But, quick to buck expectations, Slovakia was already competing for Gold by 2000, and in 2002, they would upset the Russian Goliath in Gothenburg to win their first World Championship and the International Hockey Lineal Championship.
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