Korper propels Austria to next phase of Olympic qualifying Series

Austria and Wales were the outstanding teams at the Hockey Series Open event – the first step on the road to Olympic qualification – which took place in Zagreb, Croatia.

Both teams now progress to the Hockey Series Finals, which take place in 2019. Harvestehuder THC’s Michael Korper of Austria and Surbiton’s Gareth Furlong of Wales mirrored their team’s performances as they finished first and second respectively at the top of the goal scoring statistics. Korper fired ten goals in total and Furlong scored nine.

Wales, who are ranked 24 in the world, opened the tournament with a 6-1 win over Slovakia but the good start to their campaign ended abruptly the following day at the hands of Austria, the top seeds at 19.

The higher ranked team took the lead through Dominic Uher, while Michael Korper scored two penalty corners to open his impressive goal scoring account.

Austria then faced a tricky encounter with the host nation Croatia. They took an early 3-0 lead, with Korper again scoring a brace, but Croatia fought back with goals from Maximilian Bachmann and Josip Krleza.

It was 3-2 with a quarter of the match left and Croatia piled on the pressure, but a yellow card for Krleza in the 52nd minute meant their challenge fizzled out as Austria’s defence held firm.

Both Wales and Austria then started to pull clear of the other three teams. Austria beat Switzerland 8-0 and Slovakia 15-1; while Wales beat the Swiss team 7-1 and Croatia 9-0.

In the final standings, Croatia finished in third place as they beat both Switzerland 2-0 and Slovakia 6-1. Both Bachmann and Krleza continued to impress with their goal scoring skills as they picked up two goals apiece against the Slovakian team.