SOFIA – The Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia competes for the first time in an IIHF-sanctioned tournament. Kristijan Grchevski scores the historic goal in a 20-2 defeat against Turkey.
The two nations opened the 2011-2012 IIHF European InLine Hockey Qualification Tournament in the Bulgarian capital of Sofia on Friday.
While Turkey has been a regular participant and host in international hockey, it’s the first event for FYR Macedonia as an independent nation. The capital city of Skopje had hockey teams during the Yugoslav era and played host to the 1969 IIHF World Championship C-Pool, but it’s the first time FYR Macedonia competes with a national team since joining the IIHF in 2001.
The first game wasn’t an easy one, though. After ten minutes and seven Turkish goals– four scored by Tufan – the match was virtually decided, but not without FYR Macedonia scoring the historic first goals.
Kristijan Grchevski cut the Turkish lead to 13-1 with his goal 1:58 into the third quarter and Stefan Deckovski scored the second Macedonian goal on a man advantage with 1:19 left to play.
FYR Macedonia will play its second game of the three-team round-robin event on Saturday at the Winter Palace against host Bulgaria. The tournament concludes with the Turkey-Bulgaria game on Sunday.
The tournament winner advances to the 2012 IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship in Ingolstadt, Germany, 1-7 June 2012.
The second qualifier will be determined in a Rest of the World InLine Hockey Qualification Tournament later this autumn.
Follow the event in Sofia here