ZURICH – The number of international tournaments in the men’s national teams’ season leading to the 2011 IIHF World Championship grows to 16 tourneys.
The tournaments are played in basically three tiers.
The first tier remains the Euro Hockey Tour that is organized by Europe’s top-four nations. The season for the national teams from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden begins on November 11 in Helsinki.
The December tournament takes place in Moscow, the February venue is Stockholm, and the last tournament takes place end of April in the Czech Republic just a few days prior to the 2011 IIHF World Championship in Slovakia. Note that one game on opening night of each tournament is usually played as a home game in one of the other countries.
The second tier consists traditionally of tournaments in Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland. While the Deutschland Cup in November takes place in Munich for the second straight year, Slovakia and Switzerland swapped their slots. The Swiss tourney, now called Arosa Challenge, takes place in December (city TBA) while the Four Nations Tournament in Slovakia is staged in February. The plan is to hold it in the Ondrej Nepela Arena in Bratislava that is currently being constructed in view of the 2011 Worlds.
The third tier is the Euro Ice Hockey Challenge with several other Top Division countries as well as nations from lower divisions of the World Championship program. The good news is that the number of tournaments has increased from three last year to nine in the upcoming season and also includes teams such as Serbia or Spain who don’t participate in friendly tournaments that often.
26 different nations from three continents are involved in the 16 tournaments.
November 11-14: Karjala turnaus in Helsinki, Finland, with the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden.
November 12-14: Deutschland Cup in Munich, Germany, with Canada, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland.
November 11-14: Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Belarus with Belarus, Denmark, Norway, Slovenia.
November 12-14: Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Hungary with Austria, France, Hungary, Japan.
November 12-14: Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Sanok, Poland, with the Netherlands, Poland, Russia B, Ukraine.
November 12-14: Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Brasov, Romania, with Croatia, Romania, Serbia, Spain.
December 16-19: Channel One Cup in Moscow, Russia, with the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden.
December 18-19: Arosa Challenge in Switzerland with Belarus, Denmark, Slovakia, Switzerland.
December 17-19: Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Slovenia with Austria, Hungary, Norway, Slovenia.
December 17-19: Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Ukraine with Kazakhstan, Poland, Romania, Ukraine.
February 10-13: LG Hockey Games in Stockholm, Sweden, with the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden.
February 12-13: Tournament in Bratislava, Slovakia, with Belarus, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland.
February 11-13: Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Denmark with Denmark, France, Russia B.
February 11-13: Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Norway with Italy, Latvia, Norway, Ukraine.
February 11-13: Euro Ice Hockey Challenge in Spain with Romania, Serbia, Slovenia U23, Spain.
April 1-16: Exhibition games between Europe’s top-10 nations.
April 21-24: Czech Hockey Games in the Czech Republic with the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden.
Dates and venues subject to change.