2016 IIHF World Championship Report (Day 11)

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International hockey is one of the most exciting forms of the sport as it features the best of the best against each other with fans having a clear loyalty.

It brings nations together to cheer their own country on hoping to get some bragging rights.

Every country wants to be the best at something and sports is an easy way to do that as there is only ever one champion no matter the tournament.

That is why international hockey is often some of the most popular hockey in the world, of course depending on where the fans are.

The interest in international hockey differs by region and tournament but in general major international tournaments are extremely popular.

As has been said before one of the biggest issues that the World Championship faces is the fact that it directly competes with the NHL playoffs.

It has been an issue for a long time, especially for North American hockey fans who likely couldn’t tell who is playing well this year.

The popularity of international hockey is still massive in North America and can be seen in the Winter Olympics and during the World Juniors.

There is a demand for international hockey but when it comes up against the NHL it will most likely lose in Canada and the USA.

That is why the NHL decided last year to create their own international tournament in the resuscitation.

With the issues facing the World Championship every year, the NHL was looking for a way to feature their best players on an international stage.

The NHL was also finding it difficult to allow their players to leave for the Olympics as negotiations with the IOC and IIHF have been a struggle in the last few years.

Participation in Sochi came down to the wire while participation in Pyeongchang is shaky at best.

For the NHL, it means that their best players might not get the chance to play on the international stage for a long time.

So they brought back the World Cup of Hockey that will begin in September but for many teams in the World Championship the World Cup is scene much like the World Championships are seen in North America, not too important.

A big reason is what the NHL decided to do in terms of the teams that will participate in the World Cup.

The top teams will all be there filled out with rosters full of NHL players but when it comes to the smaller teams there is no place for them.

Teams like Slovakia, Latvia, Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland will all be put into one team, Team Europe.

Meanwhile, USA and Canada will be stripped of their young talent to form a Team North America for players under 21.

In an attempt to only include NHL players and avoid having to choose two smaller teams to fill out the tournament the NHL decided on the new European team.hockey-sidebar

For many of the smaller nations and their NHL talent, that is not something they approve of as they would prefer to have some way of bringing their own country to the tournament.

A big motivation for the decision was, essentially, that these other countries aren’t competitive enough to have them in the tournament.

For the NHL, a team full of European players is far more competitive than a team made up of a few NHLers from Slovakia or Germany.

There is a problem with that though and that is that the World Championships this year have shown how exciting hockey can be when the smaller nations are involved.

The top teams are still at the top this year but the fact is that some of the top teams have had some issues.

Not to mention the playoff battle going on is great with more teams trying to get a spot up until the last day of the round robin.

Perhaps a bigger issue is that eliminating these teams hurts their development as seeing a country on the international stage helps to grow the sport.

Seeing a team of just Europeans is not going to help create more competitive international hockey.

Not only is the European team troubling but the youth team is a big concern especially looking at the World Championship.

Canada and the USA have gone with younger teams this year and although the results have been mixed based on the team many of these players will leave their country to play for North America.

The World Cup is attempting to be the major international tournament with more NHL players than the World Championship but the fact is the World Championship is still the true expression of international hockey at least until the World Cup makes some major changes.

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Day 11:
Russia 3-0 Norway
– Russia is in full swing and they proved it against Norway as the win set up a big game against Sweden where a win could give them top spot in the Group which could be the same result for Sweden in both team’s last game

Canada 4-0 France
– The Canadians continued their strong tournament as they have yet to lose a game over two years and France wasn’t the one to hand them their first loss as Canada set up an all-important final game on Tuesday

Denmark 4-1 Kazakhstan
– The Danes moved back ahead of the Swiss for the time being as they have done what they could to earn a playoff spot but now have to sit and wait while Kazakhstan finished their tournament and prepare for Division I-A

Germany 4-2 Hungary
– The Hungarians kept it close looking to guarantee their spot in the top division but they couldn’t keep up with a German team that is getting better at the end of the round robin hoping to keep the momentum heading into the playoffs

Day 12:
Czech Republic vs. Switzerland (Tuesday, May 17th; 5:15 am ET)
– The Czechs looked great at the start of the tournament but have struggled lately and that can’t continue against Switzerland as a win guarantees them first place in the group while a loss leaves their fate up to Sweden

USA vs. Slovakia (Tuesday, May 17th; 5:15 am ET)
– The Americans are still not in the playoffs after an inconsistent round robin but they have a chance to control their own destiny as the winner of this game will take the final playoff spot in Group B

Latvia vs. Norway (Tuesday, May 17th; 9:15 am ET)
– Both teams don’t have a lot to play for in this game other than positioning and pride as both teams are looking to finish their tournament with a win safe in the fact that they will return to the top division next year

Belarus vs. France (Tuesday, May 17th; 9:15 am ET)
– It is a massive game for Belarusian hockey as they take on France with their top division status on the line as a loss sends them to Division I-A and a win keeps them among the best next year while France is simply looking to end their year well before hosting next year

Russia vs. Sweden (Tuesday, May 17th; 1:15 pm ET)
– The Russians and Swedes will be watching the Czechs closely earlier in the day as a loss by them means that this game will determine the top team in Group A with the winning jumping over the Czech Republic for first place

Canada vs. Finland (Tuesday, May 17th; 1:15 pm ET)
– They have been on a collision course since the start as the two most consistent teams in the tournament finally face-off with the winner taking the top spot in Group B and the loser taking their first loss of the tournament

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