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IIHF World Championship 2020: Switzerland

10 March 2020

2018 IIHF; Spin Sports blogSource: Kremlin.ru, Wikimedia

Every May, ice hockey fans get to see the finest hockey players in the world face off in the Ice Hockey World Championships. This year’s competition runs from May 8-24th and will be hosted in Switzerland. As you watch the competition unfold, you can see the latest stats, odds, and upcoming games at the Spin Sports mobile casino, and place bets on your favorite team.

A century of history

Back in 1920, the first international Ice Hockey tournament was held as part of the 1920 Summer Olympics in Belgium. This started the precedent for an international tournament, and ten years later the World Championship moved outside of the Olympics. The popularity of the tournament grew, and now has 40 teams competing across three divisions.

The IIHF rules require players to be a citizen of the country they’re playing for. The rules of the tournament are a bit different from North America’s NHL, though many NHL players represent their home country in the IIHF competition. However, since the dates conflict with the later stages of the NHL’s Stanley Cup, lineups can sometimes change based on standings.

2018 IIHF; Spin Sports BlogSource: Visem, Wikimedia

The 2020 Tournament

This year’s tournament will be held in Switzerland, with earlier games in Zurich and Lausanne and all final games in Zurich. Anyone attending the tournament in person will not only enjoy the finest in international ice hockey, but can take in Switzerland’s beautiful scenery and enjoy visiting the cities. (Tickets are still available if you need a getaway!)

The city of Zurich is prepared to welcome large crowds of fans in the Hallenstadion, originally built in 1929 but full renovated in 2005. This stadium currently hosts the Zurich Lions, as well as concerts and shows. It formerly hosted the Zurich Open for tennis, too. When it’s set up for hockey, it can hold up to 11,200 fans.

Since 2012, the tournament has divided teams into three or more groups (Champions and two or more division groups depending on the number of participating teams). The Group stage at the beginning of the tournament further divides the Champion group into an A and B group based on their world ranking, which is based on a team’s results in the last World Championship and the Olympics when applicable.

This year’s group stage starts on May 8th, with Canada vs. Germany playing the Champions Group A game in Lausanne while Finland plays the USA in Hallenstadion for Champions Group B. This group stage will continue until May 19th, with every team in the Champions group playing seven games. This makes for 10 days of exciting games.

After the group stage, the top four teams from each group will advance to the knockout playoff and face teams from the opposite group. The playoffs continue with winners advancing until the final Gold medal game to determine first and second place. The losers of the semi-final game will play a Bronze medal game to determine third place.

A 2017 game, Hungary Vs Austria; Spin Sports BlogSource: Visem, Wikimedia

Teams To Watch

In the early history of the tournament, the Canadian team dominated, but a rivalry quickly developed with what was then the Soviet Union. The Soviets took the lead starting in the 1960s, which continued for years. Today, Russia leads overall with a total of 27 gold medals, with Canada close behind with 26. The Czech Republic has won 12 golds, and Sweden has won 11. No other country has won more than three golds.

The 2019 gold medal went home with Finland in a win against Canada. It was only their third gold win, though they’ve scored 8 silvers over the years. 2019 silver medal winner Canada is currently ranked No.1 in the IIHF, with Russia, Finland, and Sweden following behind in the ranks.

This year’s gold could be anyone’s game, though there’s a clear pattern in the tournament’s records. Even if there’s not too much precedent for an underdog, the games are always an exciting event to watch. Since the games happen over a short span of time, it’s fun to settle in and watch the tournament unfold like you would during the Olympics or World Cup. And, if you want to pick your favorites to take home this year’s gold, you can place your bets through Spin Sports, where you’ll find the latest odds for upcoming events in all your favorite sports.

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