*Punch him in the face!
Olimpija’s Brendan Yarema beating Alba’s player Odor in Austrian EBEL league
OK, so I don’t usually do sports on this blog. Unless of course you count sex and that other thing as a sporting activity. The reason for this is that I can’t even pretend to know the first thing sports. I couldn’t bluff my way through it under any circumstances. But to make an exception (if only to confirm the rule, today’s topic is ice hockey.
As some of you probably know, Ljubljana’s own ZM Olimpija followed suit of its eternal rival Jesenice and joined the Austrian EBEL ice hockey league. After decades of Slovene ice hockey being dominated by the two teams a change was more than welcome, not in the least because both Jesenice and Olimpija could now play against clubs on or above their level. Especially Olimpija performed admirably and qualified all the way to the finals of the league where it has already played five games against Salzburg Red Bulls and through a combination of skill and luck got a 3:1 lead in victories prior to last Sunday’s match. Or did they?
Namely: only hours before Sunday’s game a fax came in, saying that Olimpija was stripped of one victory (the game was played almost a week before), because – watch this – the average age of players exceeded the limits set in the rules of the league. Obviously, half of Slovenia went EXSQEEZE ME? BAKING POWDER? WTF? Average age?!?! What is this? The Little League!?! But there was no avoiding it. Rules are there and you can’t just ignore them if you don’t like them. Funny thing is, that the management of the league sent word only hours before the fifth game, with Olimpija being on a roll and all primed to score what they thought was the last victory needed to win the championship. And the – dissapointment and disbelief. Not only was one of their hard-fought victories disallowed, but was awarded to Salzburg. You can’t really put up much of a resistance knowing that everything you did was in vain. Consequently Olimpija lost Sunday’s game 5:0 and now the victory tally is 3:2 in favour of Salzburg, while only 72 hours ago it was still 3:1 for Olimpija.
While the error was clearly on the side of Olimpija’s management, the fans and the players were outraged at the behaviour of the league’s management, which was clearly aimed at destroying Olimpija’s morale. In responce, it seems, Salzburg is about to get a shot of the Balkans tonight. This evening Salzburg and Olimpija clash for the sixth time in this play-off and Olimpija must win to even the victory tally and stay in the game. A little birdie tells me that Green Dragons, Olimpija’s official fan club/
amateur hooligans and the players were given an unofficial all-clear to make tonight’s game a living hell for both Salzburg and the league’s management.
The running joke is that if Salzburg loses the finals, they’ll be off playing in the German league next season, but in realitly Olimpija is the weaker team. But no matter who wins, I (and thousands like me, I’m sure) would like to see the victory being achieved in the ring and not on some clerical error.