The 2012 IIHF Women’s World Championship begins tomorrow in Burlington, Vermont. It runs until April 14. It has eight teams and divided into groups as follows:
|Pool A||Pool B|
All four teams in Group A will qualify for the medal round. The top two teams will have byes to the semifinals, while the bottom two will play in the quarterfinals against the top two teams from Group B. The bottom two teams in Group B will play in a best–of–three relegation round. The loser is relegated to next year’s Division I Group A and will be replaced by the winner of the recently–concluded Division I Group A tournament, the Czech Republic.
The tournament will also update the IIHF World Ranking. That will determine qualifications for the 2014 Winter Olympics (more discussion next post).
Team by team discussion:
- Canada: Canada has long been one of the two dominant teams, having appeared in every final. Last year, they won silver. Canada is ranked 2nd in the world ranking.
- Finland: Finland has appeared in every bronze–medal game ever held in this tournament. They have consistently been one of the best European teams. Last year, they won bronze. Finland is ranked 3rd in the world ranking.
- Germany: This is the first time since 2007 that Germany has played at the top–level. On paper, Germany should be here to stay as their Under–18 team has only ever played in the top division. Last year, they finished in 9th place, winning promotion from Division I Group A. They are 10th in the world ranking.
- Russia: Russia’s performance last year was their best since winning bronze in 2001. They will be hosting the Olympics in 2014. Last year, they finished in 4th place. They are currently ranked 5th in the world.
- Slovakia: Slovakia has one of the best goalies in women’s hockey, Zuzana Tomčíková, and will be relying on her to steal some games to avoid relegation. Last year, Slovakia finished in 7th place. Their ranking going into the tournament is 8th.
- Sweden: Sweden has usually been the 2nd–best team in Europe. They finished 5th last year and are 4th in the World Ranking.
- Switzerland: Switzerland has increasingly managed to cement its place as the third–best team in Europe (which isn’t actually saying much; outside of the top four teams the top division isn’t really tops). Last year, they finished in 6th. Their current place in the World Ranking is 6th.
- United States: The United States is one of the most dominant teams. They have qualified for every World Championship final. They are the three–time defending champions. The United States is currently ranked 1st in the World Ranking.
Mini–roundup to relevant websites:
- The International Ice Hockey Federation’s official tournament website.
- USA Hockey’s page on the tournament.