International Ice Hockey Federation

Savolainen to coach Slovenia

Savolainen to coach Slovenia

Finn returns, Zupancic stays as assistant

Published 25.10.2017 01:11 GMT+11 | Author Martin Merk
Savolainen to coach Slovenia
Kari Savolainen will be Slovenia’s head coach in the Olympic season 2017/2018.
Slovenia enters the Olympic season with a new head coach for the men’s national team: Kari Savolainen from Finland.

Savolainen signed a one-year contract. It’s a return for him having coached the team from 2003 to 2005.

“Nik, hvala” the Slovenian Ice Hockey Association sent out on Twitter thanking recent national team head coach Nik Zupancic for the past two years including promotion to the top division last year and winning the Olympic Qualification tournament to qualify for PyeongChang 2018.

The Slovenes, however, will travel to Korea with another head coach. After a careful analysis of the performance at the 2017 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, where Slovenia finished last in the group in Paris and was relegated, the leadership of the Slovenian Ice Hockey Association decided to perform this step and go with a new coach in order to solve the shortcomings at the recent Worlds.

Savolainen led the Slovenian national team during two seasons and earned promotion in 2004 and a 13th-place finish at the 2005 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Austria – the last time Slovenia managed to stay longer than one year in the top division. Between 2010 and 2013 he worked with the association as an advisor for the national team. He was the team manager of Finland’s men’s national team from 2014 and 2016 and will continue his work at the Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences in Vierumaki.

It is planned that Zupancic will stay with the team and work as Savolainen’s assistant. Former national team player Zupancic worked as assistant to Matjaz Kopitar between 2010 and 2015 before becoming the head coach for the past two seasons after Kopitar’s resignation.

Slovenia qualified for the Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament for the second consecutive time. In PyeongChang 2018 the “Lynx” will play Russia, the United States and Slovakia in the group stage.

At the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A in Budapest the Slovenes aim at promotion against Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland, host Hungary and Great Britain.

 

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