The finish of the international hockey calendar is set to begin on 4 May in Copenhagen and Herning, Denmark, with the top sixteen hockey countries in the world meeting to compete at the 2018 IIHF World Championship.
Group A will meet in the capital of Copenhagen, which sits just across the border from Malmö, Sweden, meaning the Royal Arena crowd will likely be packed with Tre Kronor fans looking for a repeat Gold Medal. Their stiffest competition will come from another team looking for a repeat Gold Medal performance, Russia, who will look to unify their Olympic title with the Worlds, a feat only accomplished once…by Sweden. Other threats in the group include the Czech, Slovak and Swiss squads, while the likes of Belarus, recently-promoted Austria or IHLC champions France will look to play spoiler.
Group B will face off in Herning, with hosts Denmark looking to make the medal rounds on home ice. Their largest challenge will be met from Canada and Finland, the former looking to redeem their Silver Medal win in Cologne while the latter is looking to return to the finals after an absence last year. Both the United States and Germany, who played Silver medal spoiler in PyeongChang, will look to upend the usual suspects for a spot in the knockout round, while the newcomers from Korea will certainly try their hardest to stay in the Top Division for 2019 and avoid relegation.
Click here to see the full 2018 World Championship schedule
From the perspective of the IHLC, a few interesting facts related to this year’s World Championship:
– France enters as incumbent champions for the first time in history, and has only won the IHLC once at the World Championships, in 2014
– France is just the fourth team in the past decade to enter as incumbent champions, after Canada, Switzerland and Sweden
– Sweden is looking to win back to back World titles for the second time; they first accomplished the feat with Gold in 1991 and 1992
– Russia will look to become just the second country after Sweden in 2006 to win both Olympic and World Championship Gold in the same year, and win their first Gold since 2014
– this marks the first ever World Championships to be hosted in Denmark, who since 2003 have never been relegated from the Top Division
– Denmark has only hosted three IHLC games in history, the first being in 1994 (Copenhagen), and the latest in 2013 (Odense)
– this marks the debut appearance for South Korea at the Top Division, the first new country to qualify for the Top Division since Slovenia in 2001
– returning tournament All-Stars to this year’s Worlds are the top defence pairing of Dennis Seidenberg (Germany) and Colton Parayko (Canada)
The Worlds will serve as the return for NHL players to the international stage after bypassing the PyeongChang Games, so the world will see most of the world’s top players competing for Gold. Who will win Gold on 20 May, and where the International Hockey Lineal Championship will go from there, will be very exciting to watch!