Still with a day until the end of the 2017 World Championship group round, the two relegated teams for 2018 have already been determined, with both Slovenia and Italy, who only gained promotion in 2016, set to return to Division IA next season.
Slovenia will return to Division IA after bottoming out of Group B in Paris, notching just a single point in a shootout loss to Switzerland to open the tournament. Their latest loss, 5-2 to Belarus, served as an informal relegation final, with the Risi being mathematically with the regulation loss, despite still having a game and two days remaining. Slovenia’s see-saw between Division IA and the Championship Division continues as well, as they fail to stay in the Top Division in consecutive seasons for the fourth straight championship.
Italy too will drop back to Division IA after gaining only one point in Group A, in an overtime loss to Slovakia in their opener in Cologne. Their only hope of survival, a regulation victory today over Denmark, was squashed on a late power play goal that sealed their fate for good, losing by a final score of 2-0. Italy will now return to Division IA after four straight promotion and relegation seasons, failing to stay in the Championship Division in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2007/2008.
In Slovenia and Italy’s place next year will be a relative newcomer, Austria, who will return to the Top Division for the first time since 2015, and an actual newcomer, with Korea being promoted to the Championship for the first time ever. Next year’s Division IA will be made up of Italy and Slovenia, 2015’s promoted Kazakhstan and Hungary, Poland, and Great Britain, returning to Division IA for the first time since 2013. With unlikely squads like Austria and Korea being promoted, surely these teams will look to further shake up the landscape for the 2019 Worlds in Slovakia!