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Slovakia achieved its best result on the Ice-Hockey World Championship in St.Petersburg (Russia) since the split of Czechoslovakia in 1993. While the Czech team remained in the group A, and reached already three champion titles, the Slovak team had a more difficult way to the top positions.

In 1994, Slovakia won the group C, and in 1995 also the group B championship. This experience makes of Slovakia a team that played with almost all ice-hockey countries in the world. In 1996, when the Czech Republic won the World Championship, Slovakia finished on the 10th place. One year later, it reached 9th place, and in 1998 and 1999 at 7th place.

This year's World Championship in St.Petersburg, Russia, was full of surprises. There were two biggest surprises: Russia and Slovakia. Russians, after losses to Latvia, USA, Belarus and Switzerland left the Championship at 11th place, which was historically its worst tournament ever. On the other hand, Slovakia was much more successful.

In the preliminary round, Slovakia finished as first in its group after matches 2:0 to Austria, 6:2 to Italy and 2:2 to Finland. Then it continued in the second round 9:1 to Norway, 2:6 to the Czech Republic and 3:4 to Canada.

This pushed Slovakia to quarter-finals against USA, which lost no match until then. However, only a few minutes were enough for the Slovaks to beat USA 4:1. This was already a great achievement for Slovakia to get to top four in the world, however, it was not enough. In the semifinals, favorized Finns received three goals when they marked only one. This was the historical success for Slovakia to play finals.

It was an irony to play it against the Czech players. It was the first world championship final match, in which absolutely all players were born in the same country - in Czechoslovakia. In the Slovak team, there are no more players that played in the federal team, which was one of the best world teams in the whole history. However, most players remembered lost matches to the team that had to defend their world champions title. During past seven years, Czechs and Slovaks played some 18 matches, in which Czechs won 13 of them.

The final was a great game, when Czechs were winning 3:0 after a few minutes, but it became quite dramatical at 4:3 two minutes before the end. However, finally the Czech Republic defended its championship with a win of 5:3 to the Slovak Republic and won the third gold metal since 1993. Slovakia, on the contrary achieved its biggest sports success ever, when its players won silver medals.

In Bratislava, over 20,000 people awaited Slovak players on the SNP square until late night hours. And they deserved it.


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