UNITED STATES (USA) Men’s National Ice Hockey Team
previous flags – (1920-59), (1959-60)
62 wins, 30 reigns, 70 games with IHLC – ranked 6th
IHLC last held May 19, 2018
One of the original contenders for the IHLC, the United States has provided some of the most shocking upsets and wildest games in IHLC history, including the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, the 1960 Olympic “Forgotten Miracle,” and of course, the legendary 1980 Miracle On Ice. Team USA has been a rare consistent IHLC force in the 100+ years of the title, regularly putting forth competitive teams, and holding nearly thirty IHLC titles to show for it since their first win in 1933. However, the Americans have failed to win a major tournament since the 1996 World Cup, and have struggled in recent years to finish back on top of the hockey world.
KAZAKHSTAN (KAZ) Women’s National Ice Hockey Team
While the Kazakh women’s team has emerged as one of the top women’s teams in Asia, they have competed just once for the IHLC in 2005, being crushed 13-0 by Canada. Now playing in Division I, they will surely be pushing hard to compete again on the championship stage.
GERMANY (GER) Women’s National Ice Hockey Team
played as WEST GERMANY (FRG), 1990
First competing as West Germany at the inaugural World Championship in 1990, the German women’s team has so far been unable to capture the IHLC in nine attempts – however, they are continuing to improve, competing for the IHLC as recently as 2009, and finishing as good as fifth in both their latest World Championship (2013) and Olympic Games (2006).
ITALY (ITA) Women’s National Ice Hockey Team
Italy only emerged in the IHLC landscape as hosts of the 2006 Olympics in Turin, narrowly missing a chance to play for the IHLC after the title left their group before the Games began. While they have yet to compete for it, look for the Gia Azzuri to continue climbing up the women’s ranks in years to come.
RUSSIA (RUS) Men’s National Ice Hockey Team
played as SOVIET UNION (URS), 1951-91; previous flags – (1991-93)
played at Olympics as UNIFIED TEAM (EUN), 1992; OLYMPIC ATHLETES FROM RUSSIA (OAR), 2018
449 wins, 71 reigns, 493 games with IHLC – ranked 1st
current IHLC title holders (since December 15, 2018)
For the all-time leader in men’s IHLC victories, it is remarkable that the Russian team, first playing as the Soviet Union, did not compete for the IHLC until 1954, 49 years after the championship was established. But The Big Red Machine dominated international hockey for nearly four decades, setting records for IHLC wins, games played, and undefeated streaks, only occasionally being dethroned by the likes of spoilers played by Canada, the United States or Czechoslovakia. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Russian team that emerged has still played amongst the best of the IHLC, capturing over two dozen IHLC titles since 1991.
BELARUS (BLR) Men’s National Ice Hockey Team
previous flags – (1991-95)
6 wins, 5 reigns, 6 games with IHLC – ranked 13th
IHLC last held December 17, 2016
Belarus entered the world stage in 1992, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, needing five years to reach the Top Division of the World Championship. Six years following their creation, they first competed for the IHLC at the 1998 Nagano Olympics. The Bisons would win only their second ever IHLC game in one of the biggest international hockey upsets in history, knocking Sweden from the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. Since then, Belarus has won the IHLC a handful of times, and hosted their first major tournament with the 2014 IIHF World Championship in Minsk.
CHINA (CHN) Men’s National Ice Hockey Team
An emerging hockey nation just by virtue of its sheer size, the Chinese men’s team will look to replicate the success of the women’s size before the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. With the world watching, China will look to make their first Olympic appearance a success, potentially racking up a few wins (and an IHLC title) in Beijing.
FINLAND (FIN) Women’s National Ice Hockey Team
4 wins, 4 reigns, 4 games with IHLC – ranked 4th
IHLC last held November 9, 2011
The Finnish squad has been on the world stage since the beginning of international women’s hockey, first competing at the 1990 World Championship. While the Finns are one of the five nations to ever hold the women’s IHLC, and are a mainstay of the annual Four Nations Cup, they have only won four IHLC games, holding the title for a single game in each reign. However, with women’s hockey getting more competitive every day, look for the Naisleijonat to become a more dominant player on the world stage.
POLAND (POL) Men’s Junior National Ice Hockey Team
previous flags – (1976-80)
Poland was a participant at the first World Junior Championship in 1977 (finishing last), playing in the Top Division five more times before being relegated in 1997. Since then they have remained largely in Division I (despite a few drops to Division II), looking to crawl back up into the higher echelons of the tournament.
JAPAN (JPN) Women’s National Ice Hockey Team
Japan played at the inaugural Women’s World Tournament in 1987, losing their first IHLC game to Canada 11-0, but has remained consistent as an IHLC contender, competing against the U.S., Canada and China in the 1995 and 1996 Pacific Rim Championships, and a handful of World Championship appearances. They finished sixth on home ice at the 1998 Olympics, and last played for the IHLC at the 2011 Twelve Nations Tournament.