Away from the multitude of IIHF cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic, today two independently-organized tournaments between European federations were officially cancelled, as the Czech Ice Hockey Association today confirmed that both April’s Euro Hockey Challenge and May’s Czech Hockey Games in Brno would be cancelled.
The Euro Hockey Challenge, as it is organized amongst 12 independent federations, began to see some initial cancellations from member federations earlier than the Czech announcement, including Austria confirming that their matchup against Czechia on 08 April in Linz was already cancelled, which was set to be the next International Hockey Lineal Championship matchup. The Czechs, who were set to face Austria, Germany and Slovakia in successive two-game series over three weekends, hosting both Austria and Slovakia, confirmed that all of their group federations have withdrawn; any remaining federations yet to confirm this will surely do so soon.
And the Carlson Hockey Games, the last leg of the 2019-20 Euro Hockey Tour set to begin in Brno on 30 April, have also been impacted, except the tournament was postponed until August. It remains unclear whether Brno will remain on as host, but Czechia is the only remaining Tour country to not host this season, so they should be ready to take on the tournament before European club play begins, assuming the worst of the virus is over. The Czechs and Sweden are deadlocked at 16 points each after three stages of the tour, with Finland close behind at 14 points.
This now leaves just the 2020 World Championship question remaining, of which the International Ice Hockey Federation is under continued pressure to cancel, keeping in tune with their other cancellations of tournaments across all levels except Men’s Under-20, which concluded in January. As for the IHLC, seeing as the Czechs have held the title since February they would be set to defend the title next on 08 May in Lausanne against Sweden, but assuming the Worlds are cancelled, this would mean that the IHLC would not be in contention again until the rescheduled Carlson Hockey Games in August.
Photo Credit: HC Kometa Brno – IIHF – HHOF – IOC