IHLC 2022 In Review – Men’s


The international hockey season saw a relative return to normal 2022, with both the Olympics and World Championships taking place amidst a pandemic, political turmoil, and a number of major swings in the balance of global hockey power.

The 2022 calendar started with February’s Olympics in Beijing, with the pandemic resulting in NHL players being unable to participate for the second straight Olympics, this time due to a condensed NHL schedule thanks to pandemic-related delays. The removal of the NHL suddenly put nations like Finland, Sweden and the Russian Olympic Committee in the driver’s seat to be the favourites, but it was a determined Leijonat squad that ran the table in China, winning six straight (including an overtime win over border rivals Sweden and a Semifinal win over a plucky Slovakian side) en route to their first Olympic Gold Medal, defeating the ROC 2-1 in the final with a defensive masterpiece.

That final would be the last of seeing Russia in international hockey for likely quite some time, as Russia then invaded Ukraine four days after the final, resulting in both Russia and Belarus being banned from IIHF competition, along with the Beijing Paralympics and numerous other sporting competitions. While the IHLC avoided a similar situation to Canada holding the title while boycotting international hockey for seven years by Finland winning, this meant rapid changes to both the Euro Hockey Tour (which saw Austria and Switzerland replace Russia in the final two tour legs) and World Championship (which saw a venue change in Helsinki due to Russian ownership of Hartwall Arena). Finland swept the Euro Hockey Challenge, but dropped the IHLC on the final day of the Czech Hockey Games, while Czechia swept the Beijer Hockey Games to bring the title to the Worlds.

The Czechs won only their World Championship opener, before the title took a carousel of champions in group play, with Sweden, the United States, Czechia again, and finally Finland winning, with the Leijonat taking the title into the Medal Rounds. The Finns would upend both Slovakia and Team USA to meet Canada in the finals, and despite a frantic effort from the Canadians in the final five minutes of regulation to send the game to overtime, it was a Sakari Manninen power play tally in overtime that captured Finland’s fourth World Championship Gold Medal, making them the first team since Sweden captured their double in 2006 (when they won Olympic Gold in Turin and World Championship Gold in Rīga), being the first to capture the double on home ice in Tampere.

Finland would kick off the 2022-23 season with the IHLC, debuting it on a new-look Euro Hockey Tour, with Switzerland officially replacing Russia for the Tour, and the newly-christened Swiss Ice Hockey Games replacing December’s Channel One Cup. November’s Karjala Tournament in Turku saw the title change thrice in three games between Switzerland, Sweden and hosts Finland, before December’s new tournament in Fribourg saw Czechia win their first two matches before Sweden won the finale. This means that Tre Kronor will not only end 2022 with the IHLC, but that they are now tied with Czechia in the all-time IHLC Rankings with 210 wins apiece, with Czechia only ranked higher by virtue of fewer total games (466 to Sweden’s 491).

The following games were contested over the men’s IHLC in 2022 (click for game recaps and boxscores):
1755. 🇫🇮 FIN 6-2 SVK 🇸🇰 – 10 Feb 2022 – OG – Beijing 🇨🇳
1756. 🇫🇮 FIN 3-1 LAT 🇱🇻 – 11 Feb 2022 – OG – Beijing 🇨🇳
1757. 🇫🇮 FIN 4-3 SWE 🇸🇪 (OT) – 13 Feb 2022 – OG – Beijing 🇨🇳
1758. 🇫🇮 FIN 5-1 SUI 🇨🇭 – 16 Feb 2022 – OG – Beijing 🇨🇳
1759. 🇫🇮 FIN 2-0 SVK 🇸🇰 – 18 Feb 2022 – OG – Beijing 🇨🇳
1760. 🇫🇮 FIN 2-1 ROC 🇷🇺 – 20 Feb 2022 – OG – Beijing 🇨🇳 🏅
1761. 🇫🇮 FIN 4-3 DEN 🇩🇰 (SO) – 13 Apr 2022 – EHC – Odense 🇩🇰
1762. 🇫🇮 FIN 1-0 DEN 🇩🇰 – 14 Apr 2022 – EHC – Rødovre 🇩🇰
1763. 🇫🇮 FIN 6-2 NOR 🇳🇴 – 21 Apr 2022 – EHC – Joensuu 🇫🇮
1764. 🇫🇮 FIN 2-1 NOR 🇳🇴 – 22 Apr 2022 – EHC – Kuopio 🇫🇮
1765. 🇫🇮 FIN 2-1 CZE 🇨🇿 (SO) – 28 Apr 2022 – CHG – Ostrava 🇨🇿
1766. 🇫🇮 FIN 4-2 AUT 🇦🇹 – 30 Apr 2022 – CHG – Ostrava 🇨🇿
1767. 🇸🇪 SWE 2-0 FIN 🇫🇮 – 01 May 2022 – CHG – Ostrava 🇨🇿
1768. 🇨🇿 CZE 2-1 SWE 🇸🇪 – 05 May 2022 – BHG – Stockholm 🇸🇪
1769. 🇨🇿 CZE 3-1 FIN 🇫🇮 – 07 May 2022 – BHG – Stockholm 🇸🇪
1770. 🇨🇿 CZE 3-0 SUI 🇨🇭 – 08 May 2022 – BHG – Stockholm 🇸🇪
1771. 🇨🇿 CZE 5-1 GBR 🇬🇧 – 14 May 2022 – WC – Tampere 🇫🇮
1772. 🇸🇪 SWE 5-3 CZE 🇨🇿 – 15 May 2022 – WC – Tampere 🇫🇮
1773. 🇸🇪 SWE 6-0 GBR 🇬🇧 – 17 May 2022 – WC – Tampere 🇫🇮
1774. 🇸🇪 SWE 3-2 FIN 🇫🇮 (SO) – 18 May 2022 – WC – Tampere 🇫🇮
1775. 🇺🇸 USA 3-2 SWE 🇸🇪 (OT) – 21 May 2022 – WC – Tampere 🇫🇮
1776. 🇨🇿 CZE 1-0 USA 🇺🇸 – 23 May 2022 – WC – Tampere 🇫🇮
1777. 🇫🇮 FIN 3-0 CZE 🇨🇿 – 24 May 2022 – WC – Tampere 🇫🇮
1778. 🇫🇮 FIN 4-2 SVK 🇸🇰 – 26 May 2022 – WC – Tampere 🇫🇮
1779. 🇫🇮 FIN 4-3 USA 🇺🇸 – 28 May 2022 – WC – Tampere 🇫🇮
1780. 🇫🇮 FIN 4-3 CAN 🇨🇦 (OT) – 29 May 2022 – WC – Tampere 🇫🇮 🏅
1781. 🇨🇭 SUI 3-2 FIN 🇫🇮 (SO) – 10 Nov 2022 – KT – Turku 🇫🇮
1782. 🇸🇪 SWE 3-2 SUI 🇨🇭 (OT) – 12 Nov 2022 – KT – Turku 🇫🇮
1783. 🇫🇮 FIN 4-1 SWE 🇸🇪 – 13 Nov 2022 – KT – Turku 🇫🇮
1784. 🇨🇿 CZE 3-2 FIN 🇫🇮 – 15 Dec 2022 – SHG – Helsinki 🇫🇮
1785. 🇨🇿 CZE 2-1 SUI 🇨🇭– 17 Dec 2022 – SHG – Fribourg 🇨🇭
1786. 🇸🇪 SWE 4-0 CZE 🇨🇿 – 18 Dec 2022 – SHG – Fribourg 🇨🇭

The IHLC Rankings for 2022 were as follows (total all-time wins and rankings in parentheses):
01. 🇫🇮 FINLAND – 17 wins (141, 5th)
02. 🇨🇿 CZECHIA – 7 wins (210, 3rd)
03. 🇸🇪 SWEDEN – 6 wins (210, 4th)
T4. 🇺🇸 UNITED STATES – 1 win (63, 7th)
T4. 🇨🇭 SWITZERLAND – 1 win (66, 6th)

Sweden will now start 2023 with the IHLC, bringing the title to home ice for February’s Beijer Hockey Games in Malmö, facing off against Finland, Czechia and Switzerland. The team emerging from Malmö with the IHLC will then bring the title to the Euro Hockey Challenge, and then to May’s World Championship in Tampere, Finland and Rīga, Latvia, who took over as hosts following the IIHF stripping the rights from the original host, Saint Petersburg, over Russia’s Ukrainian invasion.

Photo Credit: Beijing 2022 – IIHFHHOFIOC

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