IHLC 2018 In Review – Men’s


The International Hockey Lineal Championship again saw eight countries carry the title throughout 2018, with the Olympics being added to the calendar seeing 31 different matchups, with the IHLC being defended at five tournaments in seven different countries.

As a result of ending the year with the IHLC, Finland carried the title to Korea, defeating the Czechs in an exhibition tilt to ensure they brought the title into the Olympics. They dispatched Germany and Norway before falling to Sweden in their preliminary final, before Germany went on an unexpected and thrilling elimination round tear, defeating Sweden and Canada to win their first IHLC since 2007, and to make the Olympic Gold Medal Game for the first time in history. And despite their best efforts, pushing the juggernaut Russian squad to overtime, it was a Kirill Kaprizov goal that gave the Olympic Athletes From Russia their first Gold since 1992.

Russia would be the incumbents leading into April’s Euro Hockey Challenge, but quickly fell to the Germans in just their second game in Sochi. Slovakia would play the unexpected champs this time, however, sweeping Germany, Latvia and Korea (playing in their first IHLC game ever), before splitting wins with France, who won the final EHC tilt, thus being incumbents leading into the World Championships in Denmark.

The Worlds group round saw Russia and the Czechs dominate, winning three and four tilts respectively, before the Czechs fell to the United States in the quarterfinals, who in turn dropped the title to Sweden. And in a thrilling rematch of the 2013 World Championship final,ย Tre Kronor squeaked out a shootout win over an upstart Swiss squad to win their second consecutive World Championship title (in a second consecutive Gold Medal final shootout), in front of a friendly crowd in nearby Copenhagen.

The start of the 2018-19 Euro Hockey Tour saw some volatility with the title, with the IHLC changing hands three times in three games. The Czechs opened December’s Channel One Cup with their first successful defence, before dropping to Russia, who ensured they will carry the title into 2019 with a 5-0 thrashing of rival Finland in front of over 70,000 fans at Saint Petersburg’s Gazprom Arena football stadium.

The following games were contested over the men’s IHLC in 2018 (click for game recaps and boxscores):
1665. ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎย FIN 2-0 CZE ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ โ€“ 11 Feb 2018 โ€“ EX โ€“ Anyang ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท
1666. ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎย FIN 5-2 GER ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช โ€“ 15 Feb 2018 โ€“ OG โ€“ Gangneung ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท
1667. ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎย FIN 5-1 NOR ๐Ÿ‡ณ๐Ÿ‡ด โ€“ 16 Feb 2018 โ€“ OG โ€“ Gangneung ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท
1668. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ชย SWE 3-1 FIN ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ โ€“ 18 Feb 2018 โ€“ OG โ€“ Gangneung ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท
1669. ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ชย GER 4-3 SWE ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช (OT) โ€“ 21 Feb 2018 โ€“ OG โ€“ Gangneung ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท
1670. ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ชย GER 4-3 CAN ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฆ โ€“ 23 Feb 2018 โ€“ OG โ€“ Gangneung ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท
1671. ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บย OAR 4-3 GER ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช (OT) โ€“ 25 Feb 2018 โ€“ OG โ€“ Gangneung ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ทย ๐Ÿ…
1672. ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บย RUS 4-1 GER ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช โ€“ 06 Apr 2018 โ€“ EHC โ€“ Sochi ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ
1673. ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ชย GER 4-3 RUS ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ (OT) โ€“ 07 Apr 2018 โ€“ EHC โ€“ Sochi ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ
1674. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐย SVK 2-1 GER ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช (SO) โ€“ 14 Apr 2018 โ€“ EHC โ€“ WeiรŸwasser ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช
1675.ย ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐย SVK 4-1 GER ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ชย โ€“ 15 Apr 2018 โ€“ EHC โ€“ Dresden ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ช
1676. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐย SVK 4-1 LAT ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ปย โ€“ 20 Apr 2018 โ€“ EHC โ€“ Michalovce ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1677. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐย SVK 4-1 LATย ๐Ÿ‡ฑ๐Ÿ‡ป โ€“ 21 Apr 2018 โ€“ EHC โ€“ Poprad ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1678. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐย SVK 2-1 KOR ๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ท โ€“ 25 Apr 2018 โ€“ EX โ€“ Pieลกลฅany ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1679. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐย SVK 4-0 FRA ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท โ€“ 27 Apr 2018 โ€“ EHC โ€“ Nitra ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1680. ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ทย FRA 3-2 SVK ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ โ€“ 28 Apr 2018 โ€“ EHC โ€“ Pieลกลฅany ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1681. ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บย RUS 7-0 FRA ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท โ€“ 04 May 2018 โ€“ WC โ€“ Copenhagen ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1682. ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บย RUS 7-0 AUT ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น โ€“ 06 May 2018 โ€“ WC โ€“ Copenhagen ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1683. ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บย RUS 6-0 BLR ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡พ โ€“ 07 May 2018 โ€“ WC โ€“ Copenhagen ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1684. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟย CZE 4-3 RUS ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ (OT) โ€“ 10 May 2018 โ€“ WC โ€“ Copenhagen ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1685. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟย CZE 3-0 BLR ๐Ÿ‡ง๐Ÿ‡พ โ€“ 11 May 2018 โ€“ WC โ€“ Copenhagen ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1686. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟย CZE 6-0 FRA ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ท โ€“ 13 May 2018 โ€“ WC โ€“ Copenhagen ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1687. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟย CZE 4-3 AUT ๐Ÿ‡ฆ๐Ÿ‡น โ€“ 14 May 2018 โ€“ WC โ€“ Copenhagen ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1688. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธย USA 3-2 CZE ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ โ€“ 17 May 2018 โ€“ WC โ€“ Herning ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1689. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ชย SWE 6-0 USA ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธ โ€“ 19 May 2018 โ€“ WC โ€“ Copenhagen ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐ
1690. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ชย SWE 3-2 SUI ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ญ (SO) โ€“ 20 May 2018 โ€“ WC โ€“ Copenhagen ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ฐย ๐Ÿ…
1691. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ชย SWE 3-2 CZE ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ โ€“ 08 Nov 2018 โ€“ KT โ€“ Prague ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ
1692. ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บย RUS 4-1 SWE ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ช โ€“ 10 Nov 2018 โ€“ KT โ€“ Helsinki ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ
1693. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟย CZE 5-2 RUS ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ โ€“ 11 Nov 2018 โ€“ KT โ€“ Helsinki ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ
1694. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟย CZE 4-3 FIN ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ (SO) โ€“ 13 Dec 2018 โ€“ COC โ€“ Tampere ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ
1695. ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บย RUS 7-2 CZE ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟ โ€“ 15 Dec 2018 โ€“ COC โ€“ Moscow ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ
1696. ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บย RUS 5-0 FIN ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎ โ€“ 16 Dec 2018 โ€“ COC โ€“ Saint Petersburg ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บ

The IHLC Rankings for 2018 were as follows (total all-time wins and rankings in parentheses):
01. ๐Ÿ‡ท๐Ÿ‡บย RUSSIA – 8 wins (449, 1st)
T2. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ฐย SLOVAKIA – 6 wins (51, 8th)
T2. ๐Ÿ‡จ๐Ÿ‡ฟย CZECHIA – 6 wins (194, 4th)
04. ๐Ÿ‡ธ๐Ÿ‡ชย SWEDEN – 4 wins (200, 3rd)
T5. ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ฎย FINLAND – 3 wins (112, 5th)
T5. ๐Ÿ‡ฉ๐Ÿ‡ชย GERMANY – 3 wins (23, 10th)
T7. ๐Ÿ‡ซ๐Ÿ‡ทย FRANCE – 1 win (21, 11th)
T7. ๐Ÿ‡บ๐Ÿ‡ธย UNITED STATES – 1 win (62, 6th)

Russia will now start the 2019 calendar year with the IHLC at February’s Beijer Hockey Games in Sweden, the third leg of the 2018-19 Euro Hockey Tour. The familiar four nations of the EHT will then expand dramatically at the start of April’s Euro Hockey Challenge, where the top twelve European nations on earth will compete for the IHLC before May’s World Championships in Slovakia. Sweden will surely be looking to three-peat, as well as pull away from the incoming Czechs in the all-time IHLC rankings, while Russia will look to run the table to avoid a similar disappointment from the 2018 World Championships to win their first Gold in five years, and Canada will look to regain their global stature after back to back wins at the 2015 and 2016 Worlds.

Photo Credit:ย PyeongChang 2018ย โ€“ IIHF โ€“ HHOF โ€“ IOC

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