After sweeping the Karjala Tournament, going undefeated against Russia, Finland and the Czechs and winning the International Hockey Lineal Championship in the process, Sweden looks to win the second leg of the Euro Hockey Tour at the Channel One Cup in Sochi, a year removed from the Czechs winning the trophy.
Despite the Czechs winning last year’s tournament on points, the IHLC strayed completely from the team, being carried into Sochi by Sweden, dropped to Russia in their first game, before themselves losing to Finland, who defeated Sweden on the final day to retain the IHLC into 2014, bringing the title back to Sochi for the Olympics in February.
Giving players the chance to try their hand at international play, each team’s roster has only about half of the players from Karjala returning, thus making it hard to accurately predict whether Sweden will keep its hot streak alive. However, a number of familiar faces with high point totals from Helsinki, including André Petersson, Jimmie Ericsson and Patrik Hersley, are back in the lineup for Sweden, and both Henrik Karlsson and Anders Nilsson will be back between the pipes. However, their leading scorer in Finland, Linus Klasen, has declined to play in Russia, opting instead to stay with his club team Luleå HF.
Will Tre Kronor continue their hot streak in Sochi? Will the Czechs win the opening game on home ice in Prague, winning their first IHLC title in nearly two years? Or will Russia win back their title on home ice leading into February’s Euro Hockey Challenge? If the Karjala Tournament was any indication, the Channel One Cup should provide some great hockey as well – for a complete schedule, click here.