ZURICH Ė The IIHF has published the schedule of the 2012 IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia. This yearís edition will be the first-ever IIHF event taking place in India.
Seven nations will send their national teams to the menís tournament thatís designed to give Asian nations a showcase event that donít participate in the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship program or that play at Division III level in the program.
For the first time the teams will be split into two different tiers in the preliminary round, but all teams have the chance to make it to the playoff stage and to win the trophy.
The United Arab Emirates, Thailand, Chinese Taipei and Kuwait will play in Group A while Macau, Malaysia and India are seeded in Group B.
The best two teams from Group A receive a bye to the semi-finals, while the two remaining teams of Group A will play a semi-final qualification against the best two squads from Group B.
Rather known for field hockey, ice hockey is believed to have started in India in the Ď80s when soldiers in the colder Himalaya regions used field hockey sticks and tins as a puck to play the game.
National championships often take place at a demanding altitude at outdoor rinks that were filled with up to 4,000 fans.
In 2010 ice hockey took another step in India when the first indoor ice rink opened in Dehradun, a city of 580,000 inhabitants in the Uttarakhand state, roughly 230 kilometres north of New Delhi.
The first international games at the arena will be held when the sixth IIHF Challenge Cup of Asia opens on Saturday, 17 March with the United Arab Emirates facing Thailand in the afternoon game before host India plays Macau.
IIHF.com will provide extended coverage on the event in India.
Click here for the schedule of the event.