Men's Olympic Ice Hockey tournament in Sochi 2014

Men's Olympic Ice Hockey tournament in Sochi 2014

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23-Feb-2014

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The Men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament is considered the biggest event in the ice hockey world/sport, allowing the best national hockey teams of the world to compete against each other.  The tournament in Sochi will be the 23rd Men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament, with 12 nations taking part – the nations ranked 1-9 according to the 2012 IIHF Men’s World Ranking (Russia, Finland, Czech Republic, Sweden, Canada, Slovakia, USA, Norway, Switzerland) and three qualifiers (Latvia, Austria, Slovenia).

The main tournament will be held in two venues – the “Bolshoy Ice Dome” and the “Shayba Arena”, located only 300m from each other. The Bolshoy Ice Dome (“Bolshoy” means great/major in Russian language), which will host all the more meaningful games (including the gold medal game), opened in 2012 as a multi-purpose arena and seats up to 12,000 fans. The construction costs of the venue reached approximately 180 mil USD. The Shayba Arena (“Shayba” is Russian for a hockey puck) was built as a moveable venue that can be dismantled and transported to another location. It has a capacity of 7,000 seats and was built with a cost of approx. 27,2 mil USD.

Format of the 2014 Men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament in Sochi

The format of the men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament will be the same as during the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver 2010. After completion of the preliminary round, all teams will be ranked 1D through 12D. To determine this ranking, the following criteria will be used in the order presented:

  • higher position in the group,
  • higher number of points,
  • better goal difference,
  • higher number of goals scored for,
  • better 2013 IIHF World Ranking.

The four teams (1D – 4D) with the best results (the group winners and the second-place team with the best record) advance directly to the quarter-finals, the remaining eight teams (5D – 12D) will play a qualification game. The winners of the qualification games will be marked as E1 – E4. Following the quarterfinal games, the winning teams will be re-ranked QF1 through QF4, with the winner of 1D vs. E4 re-ranked as QF1, the winner of 2D vs. E3 re-ranked as QF2, the winner of 3D vs. E2 re-ranked as QF3, and the winner of 4D vs. E1 re-ranked as QF4. The losers of the quarterfinal round games will receive a final ranking of 5 through 8 based on their preliminary round ranking.

Participants of the men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament in Sochi 2014

12 teams have qualified for the main tournament, nations ranked 1-9 according to the 2012 IIHF Men’s World Ranking and three qualifiers. The teams are divided into three groups:

  • Group "A" (Russia, Slovakia, Slovenia, United States),
  • Group "B" (Austria, Canada, Finland, Norway),
  • Group "C" (Czech Republic, Latwia, Switzerland, Sweden).

The biggest favourite of the Sochi 2014 ice hockey tournament is indeed the last Olympic tournament winner Canada as well as the tournament host – Russia, followed by USA, Sweden, Czech Republic and Finland, however the other participants (especially Slovakia and Switzerland) shouldn’t be underestimated either.

Brief history of the men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament

The first men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament took place in 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium, originally as a part of the Summer Olympic Games. Since the Winter Olympic Games in 1924 in Chamonix, the Men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament is a permanent part of the Winter Olympic Games program. The first men’s Olympic hockey tournament in 1920 is also considered the first Ice hockey World Championship. Since 1930 the Olympic hockey tournament and the World Championship were hold as individual events, however, until 1968, every men’s Olympic hockey tournament counted as the World Championship, and the World Championship wasn’t organized in the year when the men’s Olympic ice hockey tournament took place. Since 1968, both tournaments are organized in parallel and are completely independent.

 

Until the Olympic tournament in 1998 in Nagano the National Hockey League did not allow its players to take part in the men’s Olympic hockey tournament, therefore, the tournament in Sochi will be only the fifth to host all the best hockey players in the world.

 

The number of participants in the main tournament as well as the tournament format has changed several times throughout its history, currently the tournament is stabilised with 12 nations and follows the rules of the International Ice Hockey Federation.

 

Historically, the most successful participant of the Olympic ice hockey tournament is Canada with 8 gold medals, followed by Soviet Union (7 gold medals). Sweden and USA have won the tournament twice, Czech Republic, Unified team and Great Britain once.

 

Source of illustration picture: © photographer2222 - Fotolia.com

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