2017 Ice Hockey World Championship preview

2017 Ice Hockey World Championship preview

29 Mar 2017 | eurohockey.com
 

With the world’s top 16 countries, 64 games, hundreds of players and 32 officials, the 2017 International Ice Hockey World Championship will be the sport’s biggest international event this year. The International Ice Hockey Federation is staging the exciting competition in two venues this year – Cologne in Germany and Paris, France.

 
 
 
 

The pucks start flying on 5 May, when Group A and B face off, with the final scheduled for 21 May at the awesome Lanxess Arena in Germany. Here you can take a look at the top four teams competing on the ice and their chance of securing the gold medal.


Canada

The current Ice Hockey World Championship holders are the planet’s No1 ranked team for a very good reason. Team Canada have won the last two championships, scooped the 2016 World Cup of Hockey and are the reigning Olympic champions. They’re going to take some stopping in Europe this May. With the legendary forward Sidney Crosby getting better each season – he doesn’t turn 30 until August – and leading the Canadians with his power and experience, the North Americans could be the first to win three titles in a row since the Czech Republic between 1999-2001.

Russia

The biggest threat to Canada’s dominance in France and Germany are the Russians, who are looking to improve on their bronze and silver medals collected at the last two Ice Hockey World Championships. If they fail to stop the Canadians, they’ll equal Russia’s proud record of 27 titles at this tournament. Alex Ovechkin captained Russia at the last World Cup, where they went down 5-3 to Canada in the semi-finals, and he’s also the captain of the Washington Capitals. The 31-year-old forward has racked up over 900 NHL games and this season shot 28 goals and 30 assists in his first 69 games. Russia’s first game is against Sweden on 5 May. 

Finland

Finland are consistent performers at the World Championships, having played in three of the last six finals and taking the title for the second time in 2011. They were hugely disappointing at the 2016 World Cup, though, losing all three of their group games. It would be a brave bet to back them through 888Sport ahead of Canada and Russia in May. In France and Germany they’ll look to experienced captain Mikko Koivu, of the NHL’s Minnesota Wild, to get them fired up on the ice and they also have the likes of Jussi Jokinen and goaltender Tuukka Rask on their roster.

Sweden

The Swedes have a tough World Championship opener in Cologne on 5 May as they take on the mighty Russians. The USA are up next, before easier fixtures against Latvia, Italy and Denmark give them the chance to fire in some goals. As nine-time winners of the title they should have little to fear but need to improve on their semi-final exit suffered at the World Cup in September. However, they beat both Russia and Finland in the group stage then. NHL stars Nicklas Bäckstrom and Erik Karlsson both picked up four points during that tournament. Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist also caught the eye, playing three games and taking a 2.25 goals against average.

Whichever team you fancy for glory, the action is sure to be fast and furious out on the ice so make sure you follow all the results and news from the world’s most prestigious tournament.


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