World Championship Sets Fields For 2016 Worlds, 2018 Olympics

2015worlds-recap
With the dust settled over Prague, and Canada returning to North America with World Championship Gold in tow, we can not only look back on a tremendous (and record-breaking) 2015 tournament, but to future tournaments in men’s hockey, particularly next year’s Worlds and the 2018 Olympics.

From the emergence of Canada as an offensive juggernaut, to the shutout streak of the Finnish squad led by Pekka Rinne, or the surprising emergence of the upstart United States and Belarus squads, this tournament had its fair share of surprises in store across both groups. Sweden and Finland both made stunning early exits, Slovakia failed to make the Playoff round, and upsets were abound, particularly with the Americans beating Russia…and then being beaten by Belarus themselves. Ultimately, however, it was Canada, steamrolling its way through opponents by outscoring them 66-15 over nine games, that captured their first Gold Medal since 2007.

But with the final international tournament of the season completed, and theย IIHF World Rankingย updated for 2015, a clearer picture for future tournaments has emerged, not just for next year’s World Championship in Russia, but for the three-stage qualification process leading up to the 2018 Olympic Games in Korea. Firstly, with Austria and Slovenia being relegated and replaced by newly-promoted Kazakhstan and Hungary, the groupings for both the Saint Petersburg and Moscow groups are now set as follows (rankings in parentheses):

GROUP A (Saint Petersburg):
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada (1)
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland (4)
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States (5)
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Slovakia (8)
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡พ Belarus (9)

๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France (12)
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany (13)
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary (19)
GROUP B (Moscow):
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia (2)

๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden (3)
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czechia (6)
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland (7)
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป Latvia (10)
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway (11)
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark (15)

๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Kazakhstan (17)

As for the 2018 Olympics, the top 36-ranked nations in the World are free to compete, with eight teams (plus the host) already qualified as a result of the latestย World Ranking following the Worlds, in which Canada was catapulted three spots ahead into first place. First will commence aย Preliminary Qualification tournament on November 5-8, pitting the 28-35 ranked nations in two groups (all Group hosts marked with an asterisk):

GROUP K:
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ช Estonia*
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Israel
๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ Mexico
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡ฌ BUL / ๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡ชย GIH
GROUP L:
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ณ China
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡ธ Iceland
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ธ Serbia*
๐Ÿ‡ช๐Ÿ‡ธ Spain

Then,ย the two Preliminary Qualification winners, along with the nations ranked 18-27, will play in the following Pre-Qualification tournament groups:

GROUP G:
๐Ÿ‡ฌ๐Ÿ‡งย Greatย Britain
๐Ÿ‡ฎ๐Ÿ‡น Italy*

๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ฑ Netherlands
qualifier
GROUPย H:
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡บ Hungary*
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡น Lithuania
๐Ÿ‡ต๐Ÿ‡ฑ Poland
qualifier
GROUP J:
๐Ÿ‡ญ๐Ÿ‡ท Croatia
๐Ÿ‡ฏ๐Ÿ‡ต Japan*
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡ด Romania
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Ukraine

Lastly, the Final Qualification round will be made up of the nations ranked 9-17, along with the threeย Pre-Qualification winners, with the group winners advancing to Pyeongchang:

GROUP D:
๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡พ Belarus*
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Denmark
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Slovenia
qualifier
GROUP E:
๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น Austria
๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช Germany
๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป Latvia*
qualifier
GROUP F:
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท France
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Kazakhstan
๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด Norway*
qualifier

From there, the groups will be seeded as follows, with Group A already set, due to Korea’s automatic qualification as host:

GROUP A:
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ Canada
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ Czechia
๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท Korea
๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ Switzerland
GROUP B:
๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ Russia
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ Slovakia
๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ United States
qualifier
GROUP C:
๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ Finland
๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช Sweden
qualifier
qualifier

While there are certainly a lot more questions than answers to be cleared up in the years to come, we are excited at how things flush out, and for the teams that will take to the ice in Russia next year, and in Korea in three years!

Photo Credit: IIHF Worlds 2015 โ€“ IIHF โ€“ HHOF โ€“ IOC

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