Slovakia is one of the more intriguing teams competing in the men's hockey tournament at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Not because the country is expected to win gold or even compete for a medal, but because two of its top players — Juraj Slafkovsky and Simon Nemec — are competing at just 17, and both are likely to be selected early in the 2022 NHL Entry Draft in July.
The Slovaks fell to Finland in their tournament opener early Thursday morning by a score of 6-2, but Slafkovsky, who's the youngest player competing in the men's tournament, gave fans in his home country a whole lot to cheer about.
Early in the first period, he opened the scoring from point-blank range where he cleaned up a rebound and roofed the puck past Finnish netminder Harri Sateri. He later scored again with a wicked wrister from the right faceoff dot to briefly shift momentum back in his squad's favor.
While it was a disappointing start to the tournament for the Slovaks, the strong play of Slafkovsky certainly gives them something to build on going into their next tilt.
They'll face off against Sweden Friday morning at 3:40 a.m. ET while Finland will next take the ice against Latvia Friday morning at 8:10 a.m. ET.