The 16 teams are divided into four groups in the Preliminary Round.
* Opening game USA-Germany in Gelsenkirchen
- After a single round-robin series in each group, the top three teams from each group advance to the Qualification Round while the fourth-placed team in each group moves to the Relegation Round.
- The Qualification Round consists of two groups (E=A+D and F=B+C) with six teams each, playing a single round robin. The teams carry the points from the Preliminary Round with the teams that they played and advance with. Teams, which have played in the Preliminary Round, do not meet again in the Qualification Round.
The tie-breaking system for two teams with the same number of points in a standing will be the game between the two teams, the winner of the game taking precedence.
Due to the fact that the three-point system does not allow a game to end in a tie, then the following tie breaking procedure is applicable when three or more teams are tied in points in a Championship standing.
Should three or more teams be tied on points, then a tie breaking formula will be applied as follows, creating a sub-group amongst the tied teams. This process will continue until only two teams remain tied. The game between the two remaining tied teams would then be the determining tie-breaker as the game between these two teams could not end as a tie.
Taking into consideration the games between each of the tied teams, a sub-group is created applying the points awarded in the direct games amongst the tied teams from which the teams are then ranked accordingly.
Should the teams still remain tied then the better goal difference in the direct games amongst the tied teams will be decisive.
Should the teams still remain tied then the highest number of goals scored by these teams in their direct games will be decisive
Should three or more teams still remain tied then the results between each of the three teams and the closest best-ranked team outside the sub-group will be applied. In this case the tied team with the best result (1. points, 2. goal difference, 3. more goals scored) against the closest best ranked-team will take precedence
Should the teams still remain tied, then the results between each of the three teams and the next highest best-ranked team outside the sub-group will be applied.
Should the teams still remain tied after these five steps have been exercised then Sport considerations will be applied and the tied teams will be ranked following their 2009 IIHF World Ranking Positions.
If no goal is scored in overtime then the Game Winning Shots procedure will apply. The following procedure will be utilised:
- 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. Only the decisive goal will count in the result of the game.
Note: This GWS procedure applies for all games.
For all games in the Preliminary Round, Qualification Round and Relegation Round points shall be awarded as follows:
- 3 points for the winning team at the conclusion of regulation time
- 1 point for both teams at the conclusion of regulation time if the game is tied
- An additional point earned for the team winning the game in a 5-minute overtime period, or the Game Winning Shots Procedure if the teams are still tied following conclusion of the overtime period
- 0 points for the team losing the game in regulation time