austrian hockey

It’s finally here. With the Olympics getting under way and the hockey starting soon, it’s time to roll out our preview of each team between now and puck drop. May the best team win.

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The basics

The Austrian men’s national team is ranked 15th by the IIHF. They have three NHL players on the roster, they’re coached by Emanuel Viveiros, and they did not participate in the 2010 Olympics.austria-2

Member Since March 18, 1912
Total Players 11,372
Male Players 5,867
Junior Players 4,853
Female Players 652
Total Referees 435
Indoor Rinks 45
Outdoor Rinks 72
Nation Population 8,221,646
President Dieter Kalt
Men’s World Ranking 15
Women’s World Ranking 12

Group

B, with Canada, Norway and Finland.

Roster

Goaltenders NHL Team
Bernhard Starkbaum
René Swette
Fabian Weinhandl
Defensemen  
Mario Altmann
Florian Iberer
Andre Lakos
Robert Lukas
Thomas Pöck
Matthias Trattnig
Stefan Ulmer
Gerhard Unterluggauer
Forwards  
Michael Grabner New York Islanders
Raphael Herburger
Thomas Hundertpfund
Matthias Iberer
Thomas Koch
Andreas Kristler
Manuel Latusa
Brian Lebler
Daniel Oberkofler
Michael Raffl Philadelphia Flyers
Thomas Raffl
Oliver Setzinger
Thomas Vanek New York Islanders
Daniel Welser

Biggest names

Pretty easy with a team like this: Vanek (team captain), Grabner and Raffl.

Depth

Nope.austria_2-2

Strengths

Thomas Vanek is among the best point producers in hockey, while Michael Grabner is among the fastest. This is a team that needs to get rock-solid goaltending from one of their (hilariously named) goaltenders so if the Vanek/Grabner/Raffl trio can produce some offense they have a chance to steal a game or two. Bernhard Starkbaum will be the starter – he’s posted a 0.931 save percentage with Brynas IF Gavle of the Swedish Hockey League this season.

Weaknesses

Depth, obviously. Some of the defenseman in particular have resumès that make them more likely to ask for Sidney Crosby’s autograph than stop him.

Route to the Olympics

Rob the Hockey Guy explains here:

In order to qualify for the Olympics, you need to be ranked in the top nine of the IIHF world rankings, or win one of three qualifying groups. Austria was ranked 15th in the world, so they had an uphill climb in order to make it to the Olympics for the first time since 2002.

Austria matched up against Italy, the Netherlands and Germany during the final qualification round. Germany was favoured, but had to play without NHL talents such as Thomas Greiss, Christian Ehrhoff, Dennis Seidenberg, Marcel Goc and Alexander Sulzer. Austria, for their part, were without Thomas Vanek and Michael Grabner.

Germany was upset by Italy in the round robin, which set-up a final game between Austria and Germany where by Austria needed only to force Germany to overtime in order to qualify. Just like Latvia, Austria earned a spot into the Olympics with an overtime loss.

(Check out Rob at VanCityBuzz)

Prediction

I’ve got them pencilled in for second last, 11th, one spot ahead of (SPOILER ALERT) Slovenia. For a team like Austria, making the Olympics is accomplishment enough.

Schedule

Times are GMT+4, (MSK – Moscow Standard Time)

Thursday, Feb. 13th: FINFinland 12:00 AustriaAUT
Friday, Feb. 14th: CANCanada 21:00 AustriaAUT
Sunday, Feb. 16th: AUTAustria 12:00 NorwayNOR

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Other Previews

Canada

Sweden

USA

Russia

Finland

Czech Republic

Slovakia

Switzerland

Norway

Latvia

Slovenia