The Division IA World Championship tournament in Ljubljana saw the top two spots for promotion to the 2023 World Championship locked up a day before the tournament wrapped, with hosts Slovenia and Hungary both locking up returns to the Top Division.
Both teams ironically clinched by virtue of the last place team, Romania, failing to gain a point in regulation today against Lithuania, who locked up third place in the tournament, meaning no team can now catch Hungary for second place. Slovenia, who remains undefeated on home ice with one game against Korea tomorrow, clinched their first-place finish yesterday with a 5-1 win over the Hungarians, while Hungary has only lost to Slovenia thus far, with one (now meaningless) game against Romania tomorrow.
This marks a return to the Top Division for Slovenia for the first time since 2017, after cancelled promotions and relegations due to the COVID-19 pandemic meant they were unable to fight for promotion in 2020 or 2021; they will be looking to stay in the Top Division for consecutive seasons for the first time since 2005-06. Meanwhile, perennial fan favourites Hungary return to the big show for the first time since 2016, looking to stay for consecutive seasons for the first time in the modern era, with their last repeat appearance coming following three straight years from 1937-39.
Lithuania and Korea will both remain in Division IA in 2023, while Romania is relegated to Division IB; they will join the two bottom teams from this year’s World Championships, set to begin in Helsinki and Tampere, Finland next week, as well as Poland, who gained promotion in this year’s Division IB tournament, looking for their first Top Division play since 2002.
Our congratulations to both the Risi and the Magyars for their triumphant return to the Top Division in 2023!