When talking about the Ice Hockey World Championship, there is no way around the Canadian team, which will enter the competition again this year as the defending champions. Source: IIHF
When talking about the Ice Hockey World Championship, there is no way around the Canadian team, which will enter the competition again this year as the defending champions. Source: IIHF

Will “O Canada” be heard again – in anticipation of the Ice Hockey World Championship

Ice hockey OlyBet 30.04.2024

February 24th and August 20th are the days when even the least patriotic Estonians still stand up, take off their hats and sing the national anthem. For Canadians, these days are July 1st and the 26th of May this year. The first of them is, of course, their Independence Day, while the second is the day when the Ice Hockey World Championship final takes place.

Of course, there’s no guarantee that Canada will make it to the gold medal match — let alone win it — but if there’s one thing that’s certain in hockey, it’s the Canadians are damn good at the game.

When the Ice Hockey World Championship started in 1920, the first trophy in history was lifted by Canadian hockey players. As well as the second one. And the third. And the fourth. And fifth. And the sixth.

Only in 1933 did it finally happen that when the anthem was played in honor of the world champions at the Ice Hockey World Championship, “O Canada” did not blast from the loudspeakers. Before the game, of course, it was played, because Canada lost to the USA in the final.

All went on as usual

But as they say, If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. In 1934 the Canadians won again, as on the 1935th, 1937th, 1938th and 1939th. Only in the year 1936 were they failed yet once more, this time against the British (!).

Then the Second World War broke out and hockey, along with all other sports, was put to the backseat in the general scheme of things. However, when the World Cup returned in 1947, Czechoslovakia, Sweden and Austria made up the top three. Where was Canada, you ask? At home! They just weren’t in that tournament.

A year later, however, they were back and grabbed the gold again. We will spare you the seemingly endless list of all the finals, but still, three more numbers to characterize Canada’s hockey power. Canada has played in more than half of the 86 finals (i.e. 44) and won more than half of them (i.e. 28).

What is certain is that by May 26th the first number has increased to 87, but the other two? It remains to be seen what will happen at the World Cup in the Czech Republic. However, we will go through what is set in stone for now.

The hockey party takes place in the Czechs’ yard

This year’s Ice Hockey World Championship finals, numbered 87, will be held in parallel in the Czech capital, Prague, home to 1.3 million people, and in Ostrava, the country’s third largest city with 280,000 inhabitants, 275 km to the east.

A quarter of a million may not sound like a fancy hockey club, but the city has the Vitkovice Ridera club, which, for example, is a two-time champion of Czechoslovakia and even reached the finals of the Euro Series. Moreover, considering that the Czechs are the third team in the history of the World Championship with 12 golds, there is no doubting their hockey prowess (and madness).

Neither did the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) doubt it, whose congress unanimously granted Prague-Ostrava the right to organize. What’s more noteworthy is that the World Championship was held in the same arenas nine years ago!

Russia and Belarus were left at the door

This year’s World Championship finals will kick off on the 10th of May, and as usual, the games will start primarily in two subgroups. In subgroup A, which will play against each other in the capital Prague, in addition to the organizing country’s team, you can find Canada, Finland, Switzerland, Denmark, Norway, Austria and Great Britain.

The USA, Germany, Sweden, Slovakia, Latvia, France, Kazakhstan and Poland can be found in subgroup B residing in Ostrava.

A keen eye must have noticed that neither Russia nor Belarus appears on either list. Of course, this is because these are the aggressor countries that attacked Ukraine. Fortunately, the IIHF has (at least until now) enough backbone to keep them away from the international hockey scene.

Every spot counts

However, returning to the World Championship and the subgroups, as has become customary, all eight teams will play each other once, after which the four lucky ones from both subgroups will be determined, who will advance to the quarterfinals.

The non-successful quartet also actually has something to play for, because the teams finishing in the 5th, 6th, and 7th positions guarantee themselves a place at next year’s Championship. However, the team that remains last in the subgroup will be relegated to the 1st division next year (i.e. to the 17th–28th places, where Estonia and Lithuania also play this year).

Regarding the quarterfinals, it also matters which spot the team ends at in the subgroup tournament because they are formed according to the following principle: the first in the A subgroup meets the fourth in the second subgroup, etc. To put it into math terminology: 1A-4B, 2A-3B, 1B-4A, 2B-3A.

The best ones advance

In terms of who will advance, of course, it’s easy in the quarterfinals. 3 x 20 minutes of ice hockey, and the better team will advance. If the score is tied after an hour-long action there’ll be a five-minute 3 vs. 3 extra time where the golden goal principle applies. This means that whoever gets the puck into the net first is the winner. If this fails to happen in overtime, the winner will be determined in a shootout.

In the run-up to the semi-finals, there will also be a brief look back at what was done in the group stage to ensure that the best team meets the worst. There are five tiebreakers, but the principle is simple for them: the team that showed the best performance in the subgroup will face the team that showed the worst performance.

Both semi-finals will be played in Prague, and their winners will meet a day later in the final, while the losers will face a battle for bronze.

As for the tickets…

Talking about the games, should one want to watch the matches on the spot, one must consider that it is rather difficult to get hold of a single ticket. Namely, the IIHF promotes day passes, the price of which largely depends on whether the local team (Czech Republic or Slovakia) is playing that day or not. Anyway, day ticket prices start at 46 euros but can reach up to 193 euros in the subgroup.

After the tournament, however, the IIHF has selected five so-called family games for which individual tickets are sold. The price of those starts at 7,50 euros! Yes, you read that right. The purpose of that move is, of course, to promote hockey (primarily among young people).

Now for the play-off, the prices will of course be higher, but the organizers have promised that they will not differ from the prices as they were back in 2015. A quick look at the ticket sites revealed that, for example, regarding the final, a seat behind the goal currently costs 360 euros. Whether this is ignoring the inflation or something else, remains a mystery.

But then again, the World Championship final and the trophy to be raised there is still what this entire three-week-long hockey madness is all about. In addition to the trophy, which each player can kiss and raise above their head, gold medals are also hung around the hockey players’ necks, which this year are mainly made of crystal glass.


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