Thanks to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the International Hockey Lineal Championship only saw nine games of competition this year on the men’s side, staying completely within the confines of the Euro Hockey Tour, due to May’s World Championships being cancelled in Switzerland.
The third phase of the 2019-20 Euro Hockey Tour kicked off the 2020 calendar year with the Beijer Hockey Games, with the Czechs winning two of three to carry the title into the fourth and final stage of the Tour, the Carlson Hockey Games in Brno. With the pandemic shuttering most international travel as of March, the tournament was first postponed from April to August, and later scrapped outright, with no official winner of the Euro Hockey Tour named; as of the end of February, Czechia and Sweden were tied atop the table with 16 points each.
The pandemic also saw the International Ice Hockey Federation quickly cancel lower Division tournaments, as well as the Women’s World Championship, while holding out hope for the senior men’s World Championship in Zürich and Lausanne to go on as planned; however, despite their best efforts, travel restrictions and logistical issues forced the IIHF to cancel the tournament on 21 March, the first time since 1946 that no World Championship would be competed.
International hockey finally resumed with the start of the 2020-21 Euro Hockey Tour, with the Karjala Tournament in Helsinki being played for limited capacity crowds. While the Czechs won their first two games, Russia’s squad of mostly junior players won the rubber match to capture the IHLC and win the Tournament on 08 November. At the Channel One Cup in Moscow, the host nation ran the table, winning their second straight Tour leg in dominating fashion to round out 2020 with the IHLC in hand.
The following games were contested over the men’s IHLC in 2020 (click for game recaps and boxscores):
1724. 🇫🇮 FIN 3-0 RUS 🇷🇺 – 06 Feb 2020 – BHG – Helsinki 🇫🇮
1725. 🇨🇿 CZE 3-1 FIN 🇫🇮 – 08 Feb 2020 – BHG – Stockholm 🇸🇪
1726. 🇨🇿 CZE 4-3 RUS 🇷🇺 (SO) – 09 Feb 2020 – BHG – Stockholm 🇸🇪
1727. 🇨🇿 CZE 3-1 SWE 🇸🇪 – 05 Nov 2020 – KT – Helsinki 🇫🇮
1728. 🇨🇿 CZE 2-0 FIN 🇫🇮 – 07 Nov 2020 – KT – Helsinki 🇫🇮
1729. 🇷🇺 RUS 3-0 CZE 🇨🇿 – 08 Nov 2020 – KT – Helsinki 🇫🇮
1730. 🇷🇺 RUS 4-3 SWE 🇸🇪 (SO) – 17 Dec 2020 – COC – Moscow 🇷🇺
1731. 🇷🇺 RUS 4-1 CZE 🇨🇿 – 19 Dec 2020 – COC – Moscow 🇷🇺
1732. 🇷🇺 RUS 5-1 FIN 🇫🇮 – 20 Dec 2020 – COC – Moscow 🇷🇺
As in 2020, Russia will start the calendar year with the IHLC, defending first (tentatively) at February’s Beijer Hockey Games in Sweden. Whether the rest of the Euro Hockey Tour, or the 2021 Euro Hockey Challenge, are set to take place is still in question due to COVID-19 restrictions, but the IIHF has made clear that unless the situation is critical, that the 2021 World Championships will still take place in Rīga and Minsk. Whether Minsk remains as co-host due to the political situation in Belarus is still also to be determined, with Moscow, considered a good alternate site, now no longer eligible due to the recent CAS ruling on Russia’s World Championship participation.