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The World Championships begin on Friday (with Olympic seeding on the line)

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Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Ryan Pike
6 months ago
While the playoffs keep puttering on in North America, over in Europe the 2023 edition of the World Hockey Championships begin in Finland and Latvia. 16 teams will battle for world domination, with bragging rights and Olympic seeding ramifications on the line.
Let’s take a quick look at the upcoming tournament, which begins Friday morning (Calgary time).

The teams

16 countries will play at this year’s event, split into two groups of eight. NHL-affiliated players noted in square brackets.
Group A (based in Tampere, Finland):
  • Austria [2]
  • Denmark [2]
  • Finland [6]
  • France [1]
  • Germany [6]
  • Hungary [0]
  • Sweden [9]
  • United States [23]
Group B (based in Riga, Latvia):
  • Canada [22]
  • Czechia [6]
  • Kazakhstan [0]
  • Latvia [5]
  • Norway [2]
  • Slovakia [6]
  • Slovenia [0]
  • Switzerland [9]
Russia and Belarus are not allowed to participate in this event, or other IIHF tournaments, due to their ongoing invasion of Ukraine.
Active Flames at the tournament:
  • Tyler Toffoli, Milan Lucic & MacKenzie Weegar – Canada
  • Matt Coronato – USA
Former Flames at the tournament:
  • Connor Mackey – USA
  • Marek Hrivik – Slovakia
  • Roman Cervenka – Czechia

Why the Worlds matter

Recent medallists in the past five tournaments:
  • 2022: Finland (gold), Canada (silver), Czechia (bronze)
  • 2021: Canada (gold), Finland (silver), USA (bronze)
  • 2019: Finland (gold), Canada (silver), Russia (bronze)
  • 2018: Sweden (gold), Switzerland (silver), USA (bronze)
  • 2017: Sweden (gold), Canada (silver), Russia (bronze)
The Worlds matter quite a bit in terms of qualifying for the 2026 Winter Olympic men’s hockey tournament. Presuming it uses the same format as the 2022 tournment,  2 teams qualify for that tournament: one being the host nation (Italy), eight spots going to the top eight men’s national teams in the IIHF World Ranking (as of 2023’s ranking), and three more teams qualifying via play-in tournaments.
The IIHF World Ranking will be determined by each nation’s performances in the 2022 Olympics, plus the three World Championships between 2020 and 2023. (So this event could be the last chance for several countries to get themselves into those eight automatic qualifying spots.)

Flames-related schedule

(All times Mountain!)
  • Friday: USA vs. Finland (7 a.m., TSN4), Canada vs. Latvia (11 a.m., TSN1)
  • Sunday: USA vs. Hungary (3 a.m., TSN3), Canada vs. Slovenia (3 a.m., TSN1)
  • Monday: USA vs. Germany (7 a.m., TSN3), Canada vs. Slovakia (7 a.m., TSN1)
  • Wednesday: USA vs. Austria (7 a.m., TSN3), Canada vs. Kazakhstan (11 a.m., TSN1)
  • May 20: USA vs. Denmark (3 a.m., TSN3), Canada vs. Switzerland (7 a.m., TSN1)
  • May 21: USA vs. France (11 a.m., TSN5)
  • May 22: Canada vs. Norway (7 a.m., TSN1/4)
  • May 23: USA vs. Sweden (7 a.m., TSN5), Canada vs. Czechia (7 a.m. MT, TSN1/4)

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