2017 IIHF World Championship Report (Day 1)

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The World Championship is officially underway as Day 1 is complete in the top tier with teams beginning their pursuit of being named the best in the world.

As these teams all pursue their own glory in the tournament there are a number of teams that will simply be looking to stay in the top division of the world championships.

Every year two teams from the top tier are demoted to Division I-A where they then compete in a round robin the year following.

If they can get enough wins in that following year they can make their way back to the top tier where they compete for a gold medal.

A few teams have ridden this rollercoaster for a long time and some still do as they are regularly in and out of the top tier.

It is the goal of every team in the IIHF to make their way to the top tier of the division and eventually compete with the best.

Only two teams every year are able to make that jump and for a lot of the smaller teams, the hopes of making it that far are not realised very often.

Meanwhile, there are teams who shift in and out of these two divisions regularly because they are simply too good for the second tier but not good enough for the top tier.

It happens pretty regularly and more often than not these are countries that see hockey as their top sport, or second sport, and just don’t have the same talent pool.

It can make things tough for some teams as they don’t get that opportunity to grow and don’t get the extra attention from their countries that it sometimes takes to be a better team.

That is what makes this year’s Division I-A championship so great as a brand new team will finally make their way to the top tier in 2018.

The goal may not entirely be the World Championships though as another major tournament looms and for South Korea the entire rise has been timed to peak at the right time.

Prior to the top tier beginning their championship the IIHF holds the other tournaments around the world.

Although nobody knows who they are replacing in 2018 the Austrians and South Koreans earned their spot among the best in the world.

Austria finished first only losing one game throughout the tournament while the Koreans came one overtime game short of matching that record.

They finished in second place but that still earned them a spot in the top tier next year and it will be their first time at that level.hockey-sidebar

As big an accomplishment as that has been, there is another goal in mind for South Korea and that is in February.

That date is when the South Koreans will host the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.

Next February the winter sports world will descend on the small town in the north of the country to see the best athletes in the world compete.

One of the premier events in those games has always been the hockey tournament where players look for one of the big three championships in the world of hockey.

As the host country, the Koreans are given a spot in that tournament but hockey is far from the top sport in that country.

The Koreans followed the pattern of teams before them as they began investing in all of their winter sports once they learned that they would play host.

That includes the hockey team and as they invested the team continued to get better rising through the ranks of the IIHF.

It culminated just under a year to go before the games as their promotion to the top tier is proof they are more ready than ever for the games.

It is a big step for a country that has not been focusing on the sport for very long as they have had a team for decades but have never taken it seriously.

Now they celebrate their promotion and look to improve even more as they prepare in the Olympic year.

For the IIHF they realise that the goal wasn’t necessarily to compete at the top level of the World Championship but instead to compete in the Olympics.

It doesn’t hurt their goal of growing the sport around the world though as South Korea now has a fairly goo team.

They are likely never going to be at the same level of the top teams in the World Championship but to be among the best ten in the world in an important year is still a big accomplishment.

Now they will sit back and watch their future competition to see if they can improve and to see who they will replace.

The fight to stay is on and although some teams have far higher standards there are a few that are simply looking to stay out of the bottom of their group as the tournament begins.

day-1

Day 1:
Russia 2-1 Sweden (SO)
– It was supposed to be the most competitive game of the first day and that is exactly what is was as the Russians took their first big win against the Swedes but Sweden still took a point after dropping the game in a shootout

Finland 3-2 Belarus
– This game was much closer than anyone thought it was going to be as the Finns are supposed to challenge for first in Group B but they struggled against the Belarusians coming out on top in the third period

Germany 2-1 USA
– At home, the Germans were hoping to get a boost from their home crowd and that might be what made the difference in their opening game as they took the win surprising the Americans and moving into first place in Group A

Canada 4-1 Czech Republic
– Some wondered just how competitive the Czechs would be this year and they got their first test in their opening game showing that they still have a ways to go to be competitive with the Canadians taking the easy win

Day 2:
Latvia vs. Denmark (Saturday, May 6th; 6:15 am ET)
– Latvia has been the upset kings over the last few years now they look to simply be a competitive team and this game against Denmark is an important one for them to be competitive this year

Switzerland vs. Slovenia (Saturday, May 6th; 6:15 am ET)
– The Slovenians are hoping to prove that they belong among the top teams in the world but to be there they need to win games like this and the Swiss are not an easy out as they look for a playoff appearance but need this win

Slovakia vs. Italy (Saturday, May 6th; 10:15 am ET)
– Italy is back in the top tier and they are looking to stay there but the Slovaks are not an easy team to get by as they hope to stay in the top tier and should beat a team like Italy as they look to open their tournament with a win

Belarus vs. Czech Republic (Saturday, May 6th; 10:15 am ET)
– After competing well with the Finns in their first game the Belarusians are hoping to take the limited momentum and translate it to a big win against the Czechs while the Czech Republic want to recover from their own first game loss

Germany vs. Sweden (Saturday, May 6th; 2:15 pm ET)
– The Germans are riding high after beating the Americans in their opening game as their home crowd is hoping for more success but they have a bigger test against Sweden who will look to add to their single point from their opening game

Norway vs. France (Saturday, May 6th; 2:15 pm ET)
– Paris will get their first challenge in this game as everyone will truly see how important this tournament is when the French open their tournament at home against the Norwegians hoping to give the home crowd something to cheer about

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