With the conclusion of both the Euro Hockey Tour and Euro Hockey Challenge as the season winds down leading up to the World Championships in Russia, the winners of both the four-nation Euro Hockey Tour and 12-nation Euro Hockey Challenge have been crowned for the 2015-16 season.
Winning their second straight Euro Hockey Tour title (and fourth in history), Tre Kronor, despite splitting their last two series with one win and one loss each in their final two series’ against Russia and Czechia, still finished four points ahead of the Finns, ending with a 7-4-1 record and combining with 23 points from the Karjala Tournament, Channel One Cup and the 12-game Tour in February and April.
As for the Euro Hockey Challenge, in its second year of its current format of 12 teams competing in four two-leg game series, Finland ran away with the title, their second ever and first since 2011, ending with a 7-1 record and 21 points in wins over Slovakia, Norway, Czechia and Russia, only losing once to Czechs. The Leijonat finished a far seven points ahead of the second-place Czechs, giving Finland a major advantage heading into the World Championships.
Despite the fact that Canada has held the IHLC since last year’s World Championship Final, both Sweden and Finland are always perennial contenders, Sweden the last holders before Canada and Finland not having held the title since the 2014 Worlds. Finland is in Group B with Canada, but if the Czechs win the IHLC from Canada in their pre-tournament exhibition match, the title goes to Group A with the Czechs and Sweden. Now we just need to wait to see if these Euro victories result in some crucial victories in Russia!