IHLC 2015 In Review – Men’s

m-ihlcinreview-2016
2015 was a wild year for the International Hockey Lineal Championship, with the Euro Hockey Tour and World Championship providing much drama as the title changed through the hands of three world powers by the close of the 2015 Worlds in Czechia.

The IHLC quickly changed hands in the first title bout of the year, with Russia dropping two straight to the Czechs in the February leg of the Euro Hockey Tour to give the Czechs their first IHLC since 2013. As part of the Euro Hockey Challenge, the Czechs would win straight sets against Norway and Slovakia, but lost a pivotal match against Sweden in the finale of their set in April, giving Sweden their record 74th title.

Sweden dispatched Russia in two straight to ensure the IHLC would head to Prague, not Ostrava, to begin the 2015 World Championships. Sweden dumped the hosts in a thrilling shootout win to open the tournament, followed by thumpings of Austria and Latvia in the Group Round.

Canada wrestled the title away in a thrilling 6-4 victory, featuring two comebacks, to wrestle the title away from Tre Kronor. Wins over France, Switzerland and Austria sent the IHLC to the medal round with Canada, who walloped Belarus in the Quarterfinal, edged out the hosts in the Semifinal, and put on a scoring clinic to win their 25th World Championship in a 6-1 crushing of rival Russia, thus ending 2015 with the International Hockey Lineal Championship in hand.

The following games were contested over the men’s IHLC in 2015 (click for game recaps and boxscores):
🇨🇿 CZE 3-0 RUS 🇷🇺 – 05 Feb 2015 – EHT – Karlovy Vary 🇨🇿
🇨🇿 CZE 4-3 RUS 🇷🇺 – 07 Feb 2015 – EHT – Prague 🇨🇿
🇨🇿 CZE 4-0 NOR 🇳🇴 – 03 Apr 2015 – EHC – Lillehammer 🇳🇴
🇨🇿 CZE 1-0 NOR 🇳🇴 – 04 Apr 2015 – EHC – Lillehammer 🇳🇴
🇨🇿 CZE 3-2 SVK 🇸🇰 (SO) – 09 Apr 2015 – EHC – Jihlava 🇨🇿
🇨🇿 CZE 3-1 SVK 🇸🇰 – 10 Apr 2015 – EHC – Jihlava 🇨🇿
🇨🇿 CZE 4-1 SWE 🇸🇪 – 17 Apr 2015 – EHT – Umeå 🇸🇪
🇸🇪 SWE 2-1 CZE 🇨🇿 – 19 Apr 2015 – EHT – Timrå 🇸🇪
🇸🇪 SWE 5-4 RUS 🇷🇺 – 24 Apr 2015 – EHT – Mytischi 🇷🇺
🇸🇪 SWE 3-2 RUS 🇷🇺 (OT) – 25 Apr 2015 – EHT – Mytischi 🇷🇺
🇸🇪 SWE 6-5 CZE 🇨🇿 (SO) – 01 May 2015 – WC – Prague 🇨🇿
🇸🇪 SWE 6-1 AUT 🇦🇹 – 03 May 2015 – WC – Prague 🇨🇿
🇸🇪 SWE 8-1 LAT 🇱🇻 – 04 May 2015 – WC – Prague 🇨🇿
🇨🇦 CAN 6-4 SWE 🇸🇪 – 06 May 2015 – WC – Prague 🇨🇿
🇨🇦 CAN 4-3 FRA 🇫🇷 – 09 May 2015 – WC – Prague 🇨🇿
🇨🇦 CAN 7-2 SUI 🇨🇭 – 10 May 2015 – WC – Prague 🇨🇿
🇨🇦 CAN 10-1 AUT 🇦🇹 – 12 May 2015 – WC – Prague 🇨🇿
🇨🇦 CAN 9-0 BLR 🇧🇾 – 14 May 2015 – WC – Prague 🇨🇿
🇨🇦 CAN 2-0 CZE 🇨🇿 – 16 May 2015 – WC – Prague 🇨🇿
🇨🇦 CAN 6-1 RUS 🇷🇺 – 17 May 2015 – WC – Prague 🇨🇿 🏅

The IHLC Rankings for 2015 were as follows (total all-time wins and rankings in parentheses):
T1. 🇨🇦 CANADA – 7 wins (298, 2nd)
T1. 🇨🇿 CZECHIA – 7 wins (186, 4th)
02. 🇸🇪 SWEDEN – 6 wins (193, 3rd)

Canada will now begin 2016 with the title in-hand, and as Canada sat out the Deutschland Cup in 2015, this means the IHLC will not be back up for grabs until the World Championships in May. However, with the tournament in Russia this year, you can be sure the hosts will be out for revenge from last year’s Gold Medal final. And with Canada hosting the revived World Cup Of Hockey in Toronto just months later, there will be additional incentive to hold on to the title, also to close the gap in the all-time IHLC Rankings with their Russian foes.

Photo Credit: IIHF Worlds 2015 – IIHFHHOFIOC

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