After managing to force a third and decisive final game in their relegation series, Kazakhstan today was dispatched by Germany to be relegated to Division IA in 2021, returning to the lower division after a two-year stay in the Top Division.
Kazakhstan went 0-4 with a -14 goal differential in the difficult Group A in Třinec, forcing close games against Switzerland and Slovakia before being blown out by both Sweden and Finland. The Germans, on the other hand, were only forced into the relegation series by virtue of a Czech overtime loss to the Americans, putting them one point ahead of Germany in the final standings.
Kazakhstan seemed to be the favourite to be relegated in short order, especially after a 4-0 loss in their first head-to-head matchup, but they did push back and win their second game 4-1. However, they could not hold off the Germans in their final elimination game, being thumped 6-0 to seal their relegation in 2021.
Kazakhstan will now join Belarus, Denmark, Latvia, Norway and newly-promoted Hungary in next year’s Division IA series, while Austria will replace the Kazakhs as the promoted team in the Top Division, making their return to the top for the first time since 2010, edging out Latvia and Belarus by a single point at this year’s Division IA tournament in Minsk, Belarus.
The Kazakhs are now relegated for the first time since 2009, after which they only just fought back to the Top Division after over a decade in Division IA. They continue the inconsistent rotation of various teams being sent back down to Division IA over the years:
For a tournament that has seen its share of shocking upsets and blowout victories, this just adds yet another surprising result from Ostrava that has stunned the hockey world, which will surely see more drama unfold in the final medal games later today.