h National teams

Italy's leader Daniel Frank had clear words ready. © Valentina Gallina

“I’m fed up”: Italy in the Valley of Tears

The anticipation for the home World Cup in Bolzano was huge, and the goals that the Azzurri had set for themselves were just as great. But in the end there was a very bitter pill for them on Saturday: they missed out on promotion to the World Group. The mood was appropriate.

Thomas Debelyak

While the Hungarian and Slovenian cracks turned the ice surface of the Sparkasse Arena into a party stage and everything celebrated promotion to the world group, There were rows of hanging heads in Italy late on Saturday evening. The Blue Team dramatically missed their target jump into the top division. The Azzurri's reactions were corresponding.

“I'm fed up with losing like that at home,” said Daniel Frank in the mixed zone, also referring to the lost final game 7 with HC Bozen a year ago. “It’s a horrible feeling,” said the Azzurri leader.

“It was too little from me, too little from us.” Daniel frank

Italy experienced a roller coaster of emotions on Saturday. First there was that 8-1 win over South Korea, who kept hopes of advancement alive. But then the Azzurri didn't get the support they needed from Slovenia in the evening game, who had to admit defeat 1-2 to Hungary in a thrilling match. “I didn’t even watch half the game. You can't influence something like that anyway. Were the Hungarians better than us overall? No. Did they win gold? Yes, and for that you have to congratulate. 3rd place is not enough for us”

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Why did Italy miss promotion? Then Frank takes on that Hungary game on Friday Reference in which the Azzurri played well, but were too careless when it came to their chances and ended up losing after overtime. “We didn’t clean things up. But I'm also self-critical: If I score the goal with my chance two minutes before the end, we'll win and go through. There was too little of me, too little of us.”

Italy was able to celebrate a few times at the World Cup, but not at the end. © Vanna Antonello/IIHF

Nevertheless, Frank doesn't want to badmouth everything. “We had such a great dressing room this year, and in my opinion the coaching team also worked really well. I was almost certain we'd pull it off this year. I'm proud of the guys who nailed it. In the end it wasn’t enough – and that really hurts now.”

Thomas Larkin, captain of the Azzurri, takes the same line. “In front of this backdrop, with these fans, standing empty-handed at the end is painful. The sport sometimes leaves you speechless.” So there are deep wounds that have drilled into the azure ice hockey heart. But Frank and Larkin also know: “It must and will continue.”


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