The 8 teams are divided into two, four-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-placed team in each group play a best-of-three relegation round series.
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 winner of the best-of-three Relegation Round series will play again in the top division at the 2012 IIHF World Women's Championship, while the loser is relegated to Division I.
Tie breaking formula
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 by their positions coming into the Championship.
Note: If not all mutual games have been played yet in an ongoing tournament, the tied teams will be ranked in the standings according to the following criteria: 1. Lower number of games played, 2. Goal difference, 3. Goals scored, 4. Positions coming into the Championship.
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.