The 10 teams are divided into two, five-team groups in the Preliminary Round. The groups are:
After a single round-robin series in each group, the top three teams from each group advance to the Playoff Round while the fourth and fifth placed team in each group moves to the Relegation Round.
The top-seeded team from each group will receive Quarterfinal Round bye thus moving automatically to the Semi-Finals. The second and third placed teams from the Preliminary will play a cross-over Quarterfinal game. The winner of each Quarterfinal moves onto the Semi-Finals, while the loser will play a placement game.
The winner of each Semi-Final game will move onto the Gold Medal Game, while the losers will play in the Bronze Medal Game.
The four teams in the Relegation Round play a single round robin series. The two teams which finish first and second at the end of this round play again at the 2011 IIHF World U20 Championship, while the third and fourth-place teams are relegated to Division I. Teams carry over the points they earned from the Preliminary Round from the game against the other team from the group participating in the Relegation Round.
Tie breaking formula
If two teams are tied on equality of points in the standings, the following tie breaking criteria applies:
- Head-to-head (mutual) games between the teams concerned.
- Overall goal differential.
- Higher number of goals scored for.
- Game Winning Shot competition between the teams concerned.
If three or more teams have the same number of points in the group, then their ranking shall be determined by the higher number of points in a special standing composed just from the results of their head-to-head (mutual) games. If the number of points is equal between the three or more teams in this special standing just from the results of their head-to-head (mutual) games, then the following tie breaking criteria applies (with no secondary return to the head-to-head results):
- Goal differential in the standing between the teams involved.
- Higher number of goals scored in the standing between the teams involved.
- Goal differential from all games played in the group.
- Higher number of goals scored from all games played in the group.
- Game Winning Shot competition between the teams which are still equal.
Note: If two teams are equal according to all the above tie-breaking criteria at the end of their last mutual game in the group and their standing cannot be influenced by games to follow, this game shall be prolonged according to the regulation for over-time period in play-off games, just to decide the positions of the two teams.
Three Point System
- The Three Point System applies to all IIHF World Championships.
- Teams winning in regulation are awarded three points, the loser none.
- Where there is a tied score in the Preliminary and Relegation Rounds, teams are given one point each. A five-minute overtime will follow.
- All sudden death overtime periods are played with four skaters on four.
- If the score is still tied after overtime, Game Winning Shots will be used.
- The team winning in overtime or shoot-out is awarded the extra point for a total of two points.
Game Winning Shots Procedure
If no goal is scored in the overtime period then the Game Winning Shots (GWS) procedure will apply. The following procedure will be utilized:
- Three different shooters from each team will take alternate shots, until a decisive goal is scored.
- If the game is still tied after three shots by each team, the GWS will continue with a tie-break shoot out by one player of each team, with a reversed shooting order.
- The same or new players can take the tie-break shots. The same player can also be used for each shot by a team in the tie-break shoot-out.
- Only the decisive goal will count in the result of the game.
Note: This GWS procedure applies for both the preliminary round games and playoff, relegation and medal games.
Additional Game Winning Shot Rules
- Shots will be taken at both ends of the ice. The area of the ice to be used will be dry scraped.
- A coin toss will determine which team takes the first shot, with the winner of the toss having the choice whether her team will shoot first or second.
- Any player whose penalty was not over when overtime ended cannot take the shots and must stay in the penalty box or in the dressing room.
- Once named, players may only be replaced in the event of injury or penalty.
- The substitute stand-by player is placed last in the shooting order.
- The goalkeepers will defend the same goal, as determined by the Referee.
- The goalkeepers from each team may be changed after each shot.
- The players of both teams will take the shots alternately until a decisive goal is scored.
- The decisive goal will be credited to the player who scored and to the goalkeeper concerned.
Overtime procedure in Play-Off Games:
- In case of a tie at the conclusion of regulation time in a Quarter Final, Semi Final and Bronze Medal Game, there will be a 10-minute sudden-death overtime period played, following a three-minute intermission.
- The teams will defend the same goals as in the third period.
- The team, which scores a goal during this period is the winner.
- In the Gold Medal game there will be a 20-minute sudden-death overtime period, following a 15-minute intermission during which the ice will be resurfaced.
- The teams will change ends.
- The team which scores a goal during this period is declared winner.
- If no goal is scored during the sudden-death overtime, there will be Game Winning Shot (GWS) competition («shootout») according to the same formula as stated above under Game Winning Shots Procedure.