The 2012 IIHF World Championship is set to take place between May 4th and 20th, with three games on May 4th and the medal games happening on the 20th. It will be held in Helsinki, Finland, and Stockholm, Sweden.
This year, the tournament has a new format. The preliminary and qualification rounds have been made into one round with two pools of eight teams. Group A (Finland, Canada, USA, Switzerland, Slovakia, Belarus, France and Kazakhstan) will play in Helsinki for this round, while Group B (Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic, Germany, Norway, Latvia, Denmark and Italy) will face off in Stockholm. The top four teams from each group advance to the quarterfinals. According to Wikipedia, “This was done as it rewards consistently strong teams instead of those who make ‘upsets’.” The semifinals and medal games will all take place in Finland.
There are three other divisions that exist in separate tournaments; Division I, Division II and Division III play in Slovenia, Poland, Iceland, Bulgaria and Turkey. I didn’t even know that Great Britain had a men’s hockey team. Shows what I know, I guess.
Edmonton Oilers RW Jordan Eberle accepted his invitation to play for Team Canada at this tournament; the entire roster has yet to be announced. Predicted forwards include Eric Staal, Jarome Iginla, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Rick Nash – all of whom won gold with Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver – along with stars like Martin St. Louis, Steven Stamkos, Jamie Benn and Evander Kane. Sportsnet predicted the entire roster, naming Eberle as one of their third-line forwards, as well as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins as an extra in the forwards department, and Devan Dubnyk as an extra in the blue paint.
Eberle is well known for his incredibly clutch goal back at the 2009 World Juniors – the Canada/Russia semifinal game that was 5-4 in favour of the Russians; 5.4 seconds were left on the clock when Jordan Eberle tied the game up to send it into overtime, later winning it in the shootout to carry Canada to the gold medal game. Canada won their fifth gold medal in a row that year.
I’m looking forward to hearing the rest of the rosters – and hopefully seeing Canada take home the gold (before doing it again at the 2014 Olympics).