Small hockey nations still have Olympic dreams

Anze Kopitar knows Slovenia isn’t likely to see the medal podium at its first Olympic hockey tournament. Jonas Hiller is only slightly more optimistic about Switzerland’s chances.

The NHL stars leading smaller nations to Sochi are still thrilled about their turn in the spotlight.

While usual powers Canada, Russia, Sweden and the Americans dominate the medal talk in the weeks leading up to the Olympics, the 12-team field also includes teams from Latvia, Norway, Austria, Switzerland and Slovenia.

They’re all expected to be preliminary-round fodder in the traditionally top-heavy tournament, but hockey’s global growth will be showcased throughout the field.

Every hockey team in Sochi will have at least one NHL player on its roster – even Slovenia, which had never reached the Olympics before an impressive qualifying run.