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Vanek helps Austria win Division 1

If you are unclear how the World Hockey Championships are conducted, you are not alone.  I'm sure many are wondering how Thomas Vanek has already been playing while other Sabres like Jason Pominville, Drew Stafford and Derek Roy have not even started training camp, the answer can be found here.  Basically it is broken up into many groups and the winner of each group moves up a division while the last place team moves down a division.  Thomas Vanek had an opportunity to play for Austria and help them win their division and earn a spot in the championship division next year.  I hope Austria can avoid a last place finish without Vanek because he will playing in the NHL playoffs next year, at least we all hope so.

Being the only NHL player on the ice certainly allowed Thomas Vanek to stand out in the early portion of the tournament.  He finished fourth in the tournament with 10 points behind teammates Deiter Kalt and Oliver Setzinger who had 11.  Greg Chambers for Great Britain also finished the tournament with 11 points, one more than Vanek.  Vanek finished the tournament with five goals, which tied him with Deiter Kalt for the most in the tournament.

Austria won all five games they played, outscoring their opponents 36-12.  They began the tournament with a rather easy 8-0 win over an over matched Korean team.  Vanek had two assists in the contest and he was a plus two.  It certainly wasn't much of a test for Vanek or Austria but a 1-0 start to the tournament nonetheless.

In game two it became clear that Austria was a tough team in the tournament and that Thomas Vanek was more comfortable in his surrounding.  Austria beat Great Britain 10-5 and Vanek netted a hat trick.  All three of Vaneks goals came on the power play, an area where Vanek usually excels.  Vanek's power play contributions are never more evident than a quick glance at the Sabres season stats.  Vanek scored 19 of his 36 goals for the Sabres on the power play.  Vanek completed his best game in the tournament with three goals and an assist.

Austria faced adversity for the first time in the tournament against the Netherlands.  It took four third period goals to seal a 5-1 victory.  The score was tied 1-1 after two complete periods of play but Austria managed to score two rather quick goals before Thomas Vanek scored twice in the final nine minutes of play to seal the victory for Austria.  Vanek had two goals and an assist on only three shots-on-goal.

Unfortunately Vanek suffered a case of the flu which seen his production go way down in the final two games of the tournament.  Austrai squeaked out a 4-3 win against a tough Kazakhstan team but Vanek was help pointless for the first time in the entire tournament.  He did have four shots on goal but he finished a minus two.  In the clincher, a 7-3 win over Poland, Vanek had only an assist and three shots-on-goal.  He did not take the early day skate because of the effects of the flu but managed to make it through the game anyway.