IHLC Preview – 2023 World Championship

The top teams in international hockey will converge on Tampere, Finland and Rฤซga, Latvia starting this Friday, 12 May, kicking off the premiere event of the global hockey calendar, the 2023 IIHF World Championship.

Group A, meeting in Tampere, sees hosts and defending World Champions Finland welcoming the United States, Sweden, Germany, Denmark, France, Austria and newly-promoted Hungary, with theย Leijonat pacing to top the group once again this year, as Sweden and Team USA’s contingent both feature limited NHL participation this year. The likes of Germany, Denmark and France are also suffering from their top stars still in the NHL playoffs, so the middle fight of the group, all the way down to relegation, should remain very interesting.

Group B, meeting in Rฤซga, includes hosts Latvia welcoming 2022 Silver medallists Canada, Euro Hockey Tour competitors Czechia and Switzerland, along with Slovakia, Norway, Latvia, Kazakhstan and newly-promoted Slovenia rounding out the table. The group’s top finisher will likely fall to between Canada or Czechia, while Switzerland, Slovakia and the hosts, with a raucous crowd behind them, looking to play spoiler and wrench their way into the medal group.

Click here to see the full 2023 World Championship schedule

From the perspective of the IHLC, a few interesting facts related to this year’s World Championship:
– Switzerland enters as incumbent champions for the eighth time, and first since 2021, when they also started the World Championships in Rฤซga with the IHLC
– Tampere and Rฤซga, the two last hosts of the World Championship, will co-host in 2023 after Saint Petersburg, Russia was stripped of hosting rights and banned from participation (along with Belarus) due to their continued invasion of Ukraine
– this is
Tampere’s seventh time hosting, and Rฤซga’s third; this is the first multi-national World Championship host since 2017, hosted in both Cologne, Germany and Paris, France
– Hungary and Slovenia return to the Top Division for the first time since 2016 and 2017, respectively, after being promoted from Division IA in 2022
– co-hosts Finland will look to win their second consecutive, and fifth overall, World Championship on home ice (1995, 2011, 2019, 2022)

– Canada will look to win their 28th overall World Championship, surpassing Russia for sole first place for most World Championships in history
– returning tournament All-Stars to this year’s Worlds include 2022 MVP, top goaltender and All-Star Juho Olkinuora, top defender and All-Star Mikko Lehtonen and All-Star Sakari Manninen (all Finland), along with top forward and All-Star Roman ฤŒervenka of Czechia

Switzerland will enter with the International Hockey Lineal Championship, looking to combine it with their first ever World Championship, following Silver medal finishes in 1935, 2013 and 2018. Whether the Eisgenossen can finally climb the mountain, we are faced with another Canada-Finland rematch in the Gold Medal Game, or a new contender emerges, it should make for a very exciting tournament!

Photo Credit: IIHF Worlds 2022ย โ€“ IIHF โ€“ HHOF โ€“ IOC



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