With the conclusion of both the Euro Hockey Tour and Euro Hockey Challenge, as the season ends to ring in the start of the 2019 World Championship in Bratislava and Košice, Slovakia, the winners of both the four-nation Euro Hockey Tour and 12-nation Euro Hockey Challenge have been crowned for the 2018-19 season.
Despite going only 1-2 at the Carlson Hockey Games, the final leg of the 2018-19 Euro Hockey Tour, Russia pulled out the victory in their final game of the tournament, a 4-1 win over Czechia, to clinch the Tour title, their eighth title in history and their second in three years. The victory put Russia three points ahead of Finland at 22, while the Finns finished second with 19 points, followed by Sweden at 17 and the Czechs at 14. The Russians won both November’s Karjala Tournament and December’s Channel One Cup, while the Czechs won the Beijer Hockey Games in February, and Sweden took victory at the Carlson Hockey Games in Brno.
The Narodnitym captured their fourth Euro Hockey Challenge title, and second straight, after winning Group B in the newly-reformatted tournament setup, which saw them in a group with Germany, Slovakia and Austria. The Czechs finished with an undefeated record, outscoring their opponents 23-14 and only being taken to extras by Austria in their second game, a shootout victory. They finish one point ahead of Russia, who by virtue of an overtime loss to Latvia only gained 16 points in Group A, and two ahead of both Finland and Sweden, who finished with identical 5-1 records in Group C.
The Russians end the Challenge and Tour with the IHLC in hand, winning it from the Czechs on the final day of the tournament, and will start the World Championships with the title in Group B, playing out of Bratislava. Their first game will be on opening day, May 10, against Norway, and they share a group with both the Czechs and Swedes, so we will see at least two rematches between these rival nations, this time on neutral ice in Slovakia for a much grander prize.