Thanks to last year’s promotion, Hungary is playing in the highest group of the hockey world championship for the third time in post-war history. However, Thursday’s performance against Sweden prompted the question of whether he has anything to look forward to among the elite.
Riga (from our correspondent) – While the Czechs averted an embarrassment against Slovenia on Thursday afternoon, the Swedes did not give Hungary a chance in the parallel match in Tampere.
They led in the second minute and won the first period 3:1. It was basically done.
But what followed then surprised the hockey public. Sweden added four more goals in the rest of the duel and mainly won on shots 36:0 (total 51:9). Yes, the Hungarians didn’t even get a shot on goal in the second and third periods.
“I’ve never experienced anything like this,” SVT commentator Chris Härenstam shook his head at the end of the match.
The Swedish goalkeeper Jesper Wallstedt also admitted that it was something new for him: “I’m not going to lie, it was a bit of a boring match. I’ve never had a single shot hit me in a period. Here, moreover, it was two periods. It’s really very strange .”
After the debacle, Hungarian striker János Hári was asked if he knew how many shots on goal his team had in the last 40 minutes. “Unfortunately, I have an inkling,” he blurted out. “It is the way it is. It doesn’t matter if we shoot ten times or none. If we scored one more goal and lost 2-7, it wouldn’t have made a big difference.”
Hungary is playing at the highest level of the World Cup after seven years. Surprised during the group stage with an overtime win over France, but is otherwise 6-19 in four appearances and will have a lot of work to do to save.
The performance against Sweden was so irritating that after a while the debate about the format of the world championship revived again.
“Are such matches good for hockey, or are they downright harmful?” asked Sanna Lindström, a former hockey player and now an expert for the Swedish newspaper Expressen.
He reminded that after the exclusion of Russia and Belarus, the IIHF hockey federation left 16 teams in the elite group of the WC. This means that there are currently two national teams in Tampere and Riga that would normally play in the second category World Championship.
“Unfortunately, hockey is not a widespread sport to host a World Cup with 16 countries,” Lindström wrote.
“Even before the Russian war in Ukraine, I was of the opinion that the championship should be narrowed down to 12, maximum 14 teams,” he added. According to him, the higher quality of such a tournament would attract more overseas NHL stars.
In the past, Russian quarterback Nikita Zadorov, for example, complained about matches with weaker teams. “It’s a horror. It makes no sense for us to play against teams from a lower category,” he declared during the 2019 World Cup in Slovakia, where, among other things, the national team humiliated Italy with a 10-0 debacle.
At the current championship, the Swiss took care of the biggest demolition so far, defeating the Slovenians 7:0.
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