Excitement ensues, as the Winter Games approaches!

17 Jan 2018 | eurohockey.com
 

As we approach the new year, one of ice hockey’s most anticipated and prominent events lingers on the horizon, the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Winter Olympics.

 
 
 
 

The Winter Olympics

As we approach the new year, one of ice hockey’s most anticipated and prominent events lingers on the horizon, the men’s ice hockey tournament at the Winter Olympics. Irrefutably, the competition provides an abundance of effervescent entertainment, thrilling action and a palpable sense of loyalty and allegiance. Historically, the tournament has served to expound several sporting feuds, such as that of Russia’s continuous dispute with America – a rivalry forged in the cold war era.

The tournament itself is merely a few months away, with the competition beginning on the 14th of February 2018 and lasting until the 25th of February. Twelve teams successfully qualified for the tournament, and they will be vying relentlessly for the iconic gold medal.

These teams have been distributed into three groups; group A contains Canada – the country that famously invented the sport – Czech Republic, Switzerland and the hosts, South Korea. Group B contains Olympic Athletes from Russia – Russia have been infamously banned from participating in the forthcoming Winter Olympics – United States of America, Slovakia, and Slovenia. Lastly, Group C includes Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Germany.

Scandals

Indeed, the scandal involving Russian doping has been at the epicentre of the press’ attention with regards to the build-up to the Winter Olympics. Moreover, the statement issued by the Olympic organisation at the start of this month has prompted greater discussion regarding the extent of Russian doping, and the implications of banning Russia from participating in the Winter Olympics has been a prominent theme in the media’s coverage of the games.

Nonetheless, the controversy surrounding the upcoming ice hockey tournament in the Winter Olympics isn’t solely applicable to the absence of Russia – as a country – at the games. The NHL sparked debate when the issuance of their statement in April preventing NHL stars from participating in the Winter Games. Indeed, the disappointment – from the Olympics’ perspective – derives from the fact that this is the first time in almost 20 years that the NHL has failed to comply to the needs of the Olympic Games.

Typically, the NHL have been willing to tailor to the demands of the Olympics by legislating a break in their season to allow the league’s starts to participate in the Olympic games. Pressures from clubs who weren’t willing to accommodate a break in the calendar to allow their players to depart for the games has been sighted as the principal factor in the NHL’s decision.

Despite the disappointment that derives from the NHL’s statement, that means many of the most gifted players in the world will be absent during the games, cause for optimism persists as the tournament approaches. While spectators are accustomed to the unpredictable quality that characterises high-tempo sports, the history book suggests that Canada are the favourites to win the championship once again in 2018.


Source Pixabay

Countries to look out for

Since Ice Hockey’s first appearance in the Olympics in 1920, it first appeared in the Winter Olympics in 1924, Canada have been exceedingly dominant have been exceedingly dominant in the sport having amassed ten gold medals, and having attained an additional seven medals (five silvers, two bronze). In fact, the Canadians won the last two tournaments in succession having triumphed in their native Vancouver in 2010 and emulating that success in Sochi 2014. The question that adorns the lips of ice hockey fanatics is whether Canada can register a third gold medal in succession?

Amidst Canada’s recent success, Finland and Sweden have performed commendable, and they’ll be equally eager to conclude the Canadian’s current dominance and establish their period of sustained success.

Intriguingly, both Sweden and Finland have been drawn in the same group have been drawn in the same group. Thus, we’ll have a revealing insight, relatively soon in the context of the tournament, to assess which country is best equipped to try and negate Canada’s recent triumphs.

Finland have attained the respectable status of being third place in the previous two tournaments at the Winter Olympics, while Sweden were runners-up to Canada in Sochi and they triumphed against Finland in the final in 2006 to claim the gold medal in Turin.

Conceivably, one of the countries above are likely to be the victor at the end of February. However, it is easy to disregard the likes of USA and Czech Republic who themselves have performed admirably in recent times.

Regardless of which country triumphs in Korea, we’re destined to witness a tournament endowed with considerable excitement and fierce tension. Game on.


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