Czech Republic, pictured competing at Sochi 2014, began with an opening win ©Getty Images

Czech Republic and Japan each began with opening victories today at the World Para Ice Hockey Qualification Tournament in Ostersund.

It came in a five-team round-robin event at the Ostersund Arena at which the top three finishers will book their places for March's Winter Paralympic Games in Pyeongchang.

Czech Republic romped to a 5-0 victory over Slovakia in the opening match of the tournament.

Pavel Kubes led the way with three goals as the Czechs proved too strong for their opponents. 

“I’m really happy to score three goals but for me it doesn’t matter because more important it was teamwork and a team win,” Kubes said.

“For my three goals, I got three really good passes to score, so it was not difficult to put them in.”

Germany slipped to defeat against Japan today ©Pyeongchang 2018
Germany slipped to defeat against Japan today ©Pyeongchang 2018

Masaharu Kumagai scored twice as Japan thrashed Germany 6-2 in the other match.

Sweden will begin on day two against Japan, when Germany will meet Slovakia.

Hosts Sweden are seen as favourites with home ice advantage at the Ostersund Arena.

They narrowly missed out qualifying for Pyeongchang through the World Championships A-Pool in April, when they finished sixth at the Paralympic venue in Gangneung.  

The tournament will conclude on October 14.

Reigning Paralympic gold medallists United States and world champions Canada have already qualified for Pyeongchang, through the A-Pool.

Italy, Norway and hosts South Korea are also already confirmed for the Games.