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Fasel praises Sweden’s 2013 effort

STOCKHOLM – IIHF President René Fasel met with the Swedish and Finnish 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship committees during a two day visit in the two countries to make sure everything is working smoothly leading up to the big event in May. “We have a good feeling about the Championship,” said Fasel.

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The IIHF President inspected the arenas, and other event related venues. Fasel also met with the media.

“This will be the last World Championship before the Sochi Olympics, the last chance to test Olympic candidates in an international environment with lots of pressure,” said Fasel.

“We hope that the spectators find their way to the arenas and that the Championship turns out well in both countries. Sweden and Finland are big ice hockey nations and we know that the spectators will experience well-played games,” he told Swedish media.

“The new organizing committee in Sweden led by Tony Wiréhn has done an outstanding job in turning last year’s negative sentiments around. We regret that we responded too late last year to the ticket price level which scared many fans away.”

“For 2013 the tickets are affordable to all fans and we have seen early indications that the sales are going very differently this year,” said Fasel. “We want to bring back the feeling from the 1989 and 1995 events at the Globen when both events averaged around 11,000 spectators per game.”

The president also applied some positive pressure on the Swedish hosts:  

“It's time for a home team to win the championship," noted Fasel. "Swedish fans should come out to support their team to win the first gold by a home nation since 1986 when the Soviet team won in Moscow. The home-ice curse will reach twenty-seven years in 2013." “Also, Sweden has never won gold on home ice, so it could be double history in the making.”

Fasel also took the opportunity of praising Sweden’s development system:

“No other country in Europe produces high-quality juniors the way Sweden has been doing the last five-six years. This is reflected in the U18 and U20 success and also in the amazing fact that 70 Swedes were playing in the NHL last season. Some of them will be playing in the World Championship this spring.”

Fasel informed that discussions with the NHL about Olympic participation are ongoing and he revealed plans for a European Championship, which would start in 2014-2015 if all stakeholders agree.

If those plans would be realized, the European Championship (which would include most European nations in a tiered system) would replace the current Euro Hockey Tour and Euro Hockey Challenge.

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