QUEBEC CITY Ė Despite losing the 2008 IIHF World Championship final to Russia, Canada grabbed first place in the 2008 IIHF World Ranking by overtaking Sweden. World Champion Russia improved from fifth to second place, while Sweden is third and Finland fourth.
The Czech Republic lost another place in the ranking, which reflects the performances at the World Championships of the last four years and the 2006 Olympics, after having missed the semis again. The Czechs are now ranked fifth. In addition, their neighbours in Slovakia are ranked worse after surprisingly having failed to make the qualifying round of the best 12 nations this year. Slovakia went from sixth to eighth place and was overtaken by the United States and Switzerland. Belarus is the ninth of the directly qualified teams for the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. The three remaining Olympic spots will be determined by qualification tournaments November 6-9, 2008, and February 5-8, 2009. The participating teams and the tournament venues will be announced later.
The groups for the Olympic menís ice hockey tournament in Vancouver, Canada, February 16-28, 2010:
Group A: Canada, United States, Switzerland, Qualifier 3.
Group B: Russia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Qualifier 2.
Group C: Sweden, Finland, Belarus, Qualifier 1.
As well, the groups for the 2009 IIHF World Championship in Switzerland (April 24 to May 10, 2009) are determined. The games will be played in the PostFinance Arena of Berne, which will have a capacity of 10,000 spectators, and the 6,000-capacity Schluefweg in Zurich-Kloten. The organizing committee also announced that a few standing room tickets will be offered and ticket holders can use the public transportation system in the whole country for free. Unlike the 2008 Worlds, the quarterfinals will be played with cross-over between the qualification round groups thanks to the shorter distance between the venues, and the relegated teams will be determined by a round-robin relegation round, same as before this yearís World Championship.
The groups for the 2009 IIHF World Championship in Switzerland:
Group A: Canada, Slovakia, Belarus, Hungary.
Group B: Russia, Switzerland, Germany, France.
Group C: Sweden, United States, Latvia, Austria.
Group D: Finland, Czech Republic, Norway, Denmark.
Groups A and D will be played in Zurich-Kloten, Groups B and C in Berne.
Click here to see the 2008 IIHF World Ranking.
Click here to visit the 2009 IIHF World Championship website.