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World Junior Flashback: Slovakia's 2015 medal surprise


By: George Potter

Canada challenging their long-time rival Russia in the gold medal match got most of the 2015 World Junior’s hype,. However, Slovakia managed to come up with one of the most noteworthy performances in tournament history. They were able to win their first medal since 1999 and at the same time pull off a huge upset against Sweden with 4-2 being the final score. Thanks to goaltender Denis Godla's spectacular performance for an undrafted player he received MVP for his performance.

After losing in the semifinals against Canada 5-1 who would move on to play against their long time rival team Russia for the gold medal match. Slovakia would have to challenge Sweden in the bronze medal match who had a young talent and future Toronto Maple Leafs forward William Nylander.

During the first period of the game Slovakia was able to take the lead in the first three minutes making the game 2-0 through David Sloates and Mislav Rosandic. However, Sweden would eventually make a comeback through Nylander and Jens Looke.

In the second period the game remained scoreless despite Sweden taking more penalties than the Slovaks. In the third period Slovakia was able to take the lead as Pavol Skalicky would score off Reway’s second assist of the game. Reway would score another assist when Patrik Koys scored the game winning goal to seal the deal for Slovakia’s bronze medal victory.

Slovakia’s Goaltender Denis Godla was able to make 26 out of 28 shots on goal. Due to his performance in the tournament he was awarded MVP. His performance had also made a Canadian crowd chant “Goalie! Goalie!” during the 2015 tournament.

In an interview after the bronze medal match Godla expressed how this was a great feeling for the country of Slovakia for winning their first medal since the 1999 world juniors tournament.

“It is a wonderful feeling, it is almost indescribable for all Slovakians. The Swedish team seemed disappointed from losing Sunday and we wanted to win more than they did,” said Godla.

The Hockey News ranked the 2015 Team Slovakia 9th in the Top Ten Greatest World Junior Championship Team Performances of the Decade that was published in 2019. This was due to how Godla was able to stop 224 of 242 shots throughout the entire tournament.

Despite being eligible for the 2015, NHL Draft Godla was left undrafted. Currently he plays for HC Litvinov in the Czech Republic and has not had a chance to play in the NHL in his professional career so far. He is the only player to be named MVP of the tournament that was not drafted and has not played in the NHL. However, his performance at the World Juniors was unforgettable for everyone who watched him play that year.


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