Recap: Day 2 - 2023 Men Olympic Ice Hockey Qualification Round 2, Group K
by Henrik MANNINEN|15 DEC 2023
photo: © International Ice Hockey Federation
Estonia and Iceland kept their perfect record intact during Day 2 of the 2023 Men Olympic Ice Hockey Qualification Round 2, Group K.

Hosts Iceland will go head to head versus Estonia in a winner-takes-all encounter in Reykjavik on Sunday to keep Olympic hopes alive beyond the new year.

In Sunday´s other game, South Africa will take on Bulgaria as both teams chase their first win of the round-robin tournament.


27-1 versus South Africa from 16 March 1994 is etched into the history of Estonian hockey as their joint-biggest victory.

With Estonia competing three levels above South Africa in World Championship play, goals galore were expected when the pair faced off in Laugardalur Arena during day 2 of Group K.

But David decided to take on Goliath. At least momentarily. Aided by the heroics from South Africa´s netminder Ryan Boyd the score was 1-1 after one period. Estonia had needed 13:08 to net their opener. South Africa´s Stefan Kluyts hit back just 3:28 later.

With Estonia steaming ahead in the second frame they eventually reaped their rewards by netting five unanswered goals. But with seven seconds left of the middle period, veteran Marc Giot scored South Africa´s second following Estonian comedy defending. 

Estonia went on to add another three goals in a display they quickly wished to forget. For the South African players, it will live on as the afternoon when they lived up to the true embodiment of the Olympic spirit.


Despite peppering Bulgaria´s netminder Dimitar Dimitrov with 68 shots it yielded only in four goals for Iceland.

Trailing 2-3 and with desperation creeping in, Iceland head coach Vladimir Kolek pulled Jakob Johannesson from the Iceland net to send on a sixth skater and try mounting a comeback.

Uni Blondal levelled the game at 58.34 and with just 17 seconds left of regular time Unnar Runarsson came to the rescue to break the hearts of the defensive-minded Bulgarians. Andri Mikaelsson and Kari Arnarsson also tallied for Iceland on a memorable night in Laugardalur Arena.

Bulgaria´s most recent visit to Iceland was during the 2022 World Championship Division II Group B. The Balkan nation then finished fourth and lost 10-2 against a gold medal-winning Icelandic team.

Returning 19 months later they now mastered the art of efficiency close to perfection. Mustering only 13 shots, Bulgaria still managed to score thrice. Mario Atanasov did it devastatingly and clinically with a double in the second period. Blueliner Konstantin Dikov netted their third goal.