IHLC 2017 In Review – Men’s


The International Hockey Lineal Championship increased the number of champions yet again from a previous year, with eight different countries holding the title over 28 games in the lead-up to the 2018 Olympics in PyeongChang.

The Swiss, an already unlikely champion heading into 2017, cruised through February’s Slovakia Cup and into the Euro Hockey Challenge, splitting a series with France, who won their first title since 2014 to move into tenth in the all-time IHLC standings. France dropped the title to Russia, who then lost it back to the Eisgenossen, splitting their final Challenge series with Denmark.

With just an exhibition game against Canada to be incumbents leading into May’s World Championships, the defending champs won the title to march into Paris with the IHLC, winning five straight in the Group Round before the title changed hands in three straight games, first to Switzerland, then Finland, and then back to Canada to close out the Group Round. Canada cruised to the finals for the third straight year, but fell to Sweden in a shootout, giving Tre Kronor their record 75th IHLC.

Sweden entered the 2017-18 season with the IHLC on the Euro Hockey Tour, retaining in their two opening matches of the 2017 Karjala Tournament before losing to hosts Finland, who left the tournament with the IHLC. It was at this month’s Channel One Cup in Russia, however, where it was a determined Czech squad going a perfect 3-0 in group play, meaning they will be taking the IHLC to Korea for the 2018 Games.

The following games were contested over the men’s IHLC in 2017 (click for game recaps and boxscores):
1639. 🇨🇭 SUI 4-2 BLR 🇧🇾 – 02/10/2017 – SC – Nitra 🇸🇰
1640. 🇨🇭 SUI 4-3 SVK 🇸🇰 – 02/11/2017 – SC – Nitra 🇸🇰
1641. 🇨🇭 SUI 4-3 FRA 🇫🇷 – 04/08/2017 – EHC – Amiens 🇫🇷
1642. 🇫🇷 FRA 3-2 SUI 🇨🇭 (OT) – 04/09/2017 – EHC – Cergy-Pontoise 🇫🇷
1643. 🇫🇷 FRA 1-0 RUS 🇷🇺 (OT) – 04/13/2017 – EHC – Chelyabinsk 🇷🇺
1644. 🇷🇺 RUS 6-0 FRA 🇫🇷 – 04/15/2017 – EHC – Chelyabinsk 🇷🇺
1645. 🇨🇭 SUI 2-1 RUS 🇷🇺 – 04/21/2017 – EHC – Fribourg 🇨🇭
1646. 🇨🇭 SUI 2-0 RUS 🇷🇺 – 04/22/2017 – EHC – Biel 🇨🇭
1647. 🇩🇰 DEN 5-4 SUI 🇨🇭 – 04/26/2017 – EHC – La Chaux-de-Fonds 🇨🇭
1648. 🇨🇭 SUI 2-0 DEN 🇩🇰 – 04/28/2017 – EHC – Basel 🇨🇭
1649. 🇨🇦 CAN 4-1 SUI 🇨🇭 – 05/02/2017 – EX – Geneva 🇨🇭
1650. 🇨🇦 CAN 4-1 CZE 🇨🇿 – 05/05/2017 – WC – Paris 🇫🇷
1651. 🇨🇦 CAN 7-2 SLO 🇸🇮 – 05/07/2017 – WC – Paris 🇫🇷
1652. 🇨🇦 CAN 6-0 BLR 🇧🇾 – 05/08/2017 – WC – Paris 🇫🇷
1653. 🇨🇦 CAN 3-2 FRA 🇫🇷 – 05/11/2017 – WC – Paris 🇫🇷
1654. 🇨🇭 SUI 3-2 CAN 🇨🇦 (OT) – 05/13/2017 – WC – Paris 🇫🇷
1655. 🇫🇮 FIN 3-2 SUI 🇨🇭 (OT) – 05/14/2017 – WC – Paris 🇫🇷
1656. 🇨🇦 CAN 5-2 FIN 🇫🇮 – 05/16/2017 – WC – Paris 🇫🇷
1657. 🇨🇦 CAN 2-1 GER 🇩🇪 – 05/18/2017 – WC – Cologne 🇩🇪
1658. 🇨🇦 CAN 4-2 RUS 🇷🇺 – 05/20/2017 – WC – Cologne 🇩🇪
1659. 🇸🇪 SWE 2-1 CAN 🇨🇦 (SO) – 05/21/2017 – WC – Cologne 🇩🇪 🏅
1660. 🇸🇪 SWE 5-3 CZE 🇨🇿 – 11/08/2017 – KT – Örebro 🇸🇪
1661. 🇸🇪 SWE 2-0 CAN 🇨🇦 – 11/10/2017 – KT – Helsinki 🇫🇮
1662. 🇫🇮 FIN 3-1 SWE 🇸🇪 – 11/11/2017 – KT – Helsinki 🇫🇮
1663. 🇫🇮 FIN 4-3 CAN 🇨🇦 – 11/12/2017 – KT – Helsinki 🇫🇮
1664. 🇨🇿 CZE 3-2 FIN 🇫🇮 (OT) – 12/13/2017 – COC – Prague 🇨🇿
1665. 🇨🇿 CZE 4-1 CAN 🇨🇦 – 12/15/2017 – COC – Moscow 🇷🇺
1666. 🇨🇿 CZE 4-1 SWE 🇸🇪 – 12/17/2017 – COC – Moscow 🇷🇺

The IHLC Rankings for 2017 were as follows (total all-time wins and rankings in parentheses):
01. 🇨🇦 CANADA – 8 wins (321, 2nd)
02. 🇨🇭 SWITZERLAND – 7 wins (59, 7th)
T3. 🇨🇿 CZECHIA – 3 wins (189, 4th)
T3. 🇫🇮 FINLAND – 3 wins (108, 5th)
T3. 🇸🇪 SWEDEN – 3 wins (196, 3rd)
06. 🇫🇷 FRANCE – 2 wins (20, 10th)
T7. 🇩🇰 DENMARK – 1 win (4, 14th)
T7. 🇷🇺 RUSSIA – 1 win (441, 1st)

Czechia will start the 2018 calendar year with an exhibition tilt in Anyang, South Korea against Finland, meaning one of these two nations will start the formal Olympiad with the belt in hand. If Czechia retains, the title will start in Group A with Canada, Switzerland and Korea, who would get their first-ever attempt at the IHLC, while Finland would face Sweden, Germany and Norway in Group C if they capture the belt. However, the Czechs’ recent resurgence gives them a definitive advantage in Korea, as they look to catch up to Sweden and leap into third place in the all-time IHLC rankings, and look for their first Olympic glory since the legendary 1998 Nagano Games.

Photo Credit: IIHF Worlds 2017 – IIHFHHOFIOC

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