2016 IIHF World Championship Report (Day 12)

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The round robin has come to an end as every team now knows their fate heading forward with eight teams headed home and eight teams headed to the playoffs.

The tournament has been an interesting one and one that was entirely split between the two groups.

Generally, throughout the tournament, the best teams rise and both groups look very similar as the days go one.

The top teams remain the top teams and rise quickly to the top as they focus on the playoffs and going for gold.

Meanwhile, the worst teams fight to stay out of relegation with only games between the bottom two meaning a lot.

The rest of the teams fight for that final playoff spot with a mix of wins against each other making the difference.

That wasn’t exactly the way it worked this year though as the two groups saw some different results.

In Group A, everyone expected Russia and Sweden to rise quickly while the Czech Republic came in just behind them.

Then the Czechs beat Russia to start things off while Sweden lost out on a point in their opening game.

From the start, the group was turned around as the top teams were not nearly as dominant as many thought they would be and other middling teams began pushing for more than one playoff spot.

The Czechs rose to the top and never looked back as their win against Russia kept them ahead of the pack.

A win in the final round robin game gave them the top spot in the group while Sweden and Russia played for the second place spot.

With Russia taking the win they moved into a solid second place while sending the Swedes to third.

The rest of the group became interesting immediately as Latvia looked to be a real challenger for a playoff spot after taking two good teams to overtime in their first two games.

Then they fell off and the trio of Norway, Denmark and Switzerland all began fighting for the last spot in the playoffs.

Eventually, it was the Danes who took that spot leaving Switzerland and Norway to go home empty handed.

It was an interesting round robin for Group A and in the end, the top three still found their way to the playoffs, albeit in a slightly different order than expected.

In Group B, it was a little more typical for the top two in the group as everyone saw Finland and Canada as two of the top teams in the group.

Both went through the tournament undefeated until facing each other on the final day to determine the top spot.

The Finns came out on top as the Canadians were not up to the task falling to second place while Finland clinched the group.

The big surprise in the group though was the Americans who did not have a great round robin.

They were inconsistent and as a result, they fell to the bottom of the playoffs with their final game of the round-robin determining if they would get a spot.hockey-sidebar

They took on the Slovaks and lost but saved a playoff spot by keeping the game at a tie and forcing overtime.

The single point they received in the overtime loss got them enough points to keep the final spot while the Slovaks missed out on the playoffs.

With the Americans on the bottom of the top four, the big surprise came with the team ahead of them.

Germany has regularly been near the bottom of the standings but this year some key wins gave them the third spot in the group.

Nobody expected them to get there but they are in the playoffs and hoping to fight for a medal by surprising everyone.

As the focus on the playoffs increased what was lost was the fact that Group B also had the best relegation fight.

Hungary had taken their first win in 77 years in the tournament over Belarus putting them into a tie with the tiebreaker against Belarus.

The hope for Hungary was that France could win the final game against Belarus and send Belarus back to Division I-A.

That’s not what happened though as Belarus won the game and moved ahead of Hungary to avoid relegation.

Both groups have seen the teams that were expected to move on, move on but it was far from easy for any of the teams as they all had to battle for something.

If that trend continues the playoffs could get interesting with the quarter-finals right around the corner.

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Day 11:
Czech Republic 5-4 Switzerland
– It was simple for the Czechs on the final round-robin day as they just had to win to clinch the top spot in the group while for Switzerland a win gave them a chance at the playoffs but it was the Czechs that got the job down to take group A

Slovakia 3-2 USA (OT)
– The Slovaks had a chance to eliminate the Americans from playoff contention but they needed a regulation win and couldn’t get it with the US playing good defence and kept the game close into overtime as they took the final playoff spot despite the loss

Norway 3-1 Latvia
– There was nothing but pride on the line in this game as both teams looked to take a win in their final game of the tournament hoping to at least get some momentum before Olympic qualifying this summer

Belarus 3-0 France
– Hungarian fans were watching close as they needed France to step up to ensure Hungary’s spot in next year’s top division but the French clearly had no motivation as Belarus easily got past them forcing Hungary into relegation

Russia 4-1 Sweden
– The Russians continued their strong finish to the round-robin with an easy game against the team that was supposed to be their biggest challenge as they solidified their second-place spot in Group A

Finland 4-0 Canada
– The Canadians did not look like the team that was on a 16-game win streak as the Finnish defence was good once again and the offence took advantage taking the win and first place in Group B

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