Host Slovakia selected to play the preliminary round in Kosice in Group A that further includes Canada, the first-ranked team in the IIHF Men’s World Ranking, recent bronze medallist United States, Finland, Olympic silver medallist Germany, Denmark, France and Great Britain, which last month earned promotion in dramatic fashion for its first top-level participation since 1994.
Group B will be played in the capital of Bratislava in close proximity to two of the participating countries, the Czech Republic and Austria. The group also includes defending champion Sweden, Russia, silver medallist Switzerland, Norway, Latvia and Italy, the other promoted team.
"There is one year left until the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Slovakia. It is a commitment for us. Even if one year seems to be a long time, it will pass quickly and the first fans will start to come soon,“ said Slovak Ice Hockey Federation President Martin Kohut. "However, I can say that preparations are going according to the plan and the organising committee is working at full blast. This way I would like to invite everyone to come to Slovakia. I am sure that together we will create unforgettable world championship, amazing atmosphere, and, since it is typical for Slovaks, we will come up with something more, so the fans will rememeber the championship in Slovakia forever. I believe the performance of our national team will help to achieve that.“
About the choice of having the Slovak national team in Kosice, Kohut said: "Various factors were important when making the decision. The main reason was that we wanted to comply with the wishes of the fans in Eastern Slovakia, who had to travel to Bratislava to see the Slovak matches during the 2011 championship. In case of playing quarter-finals, the Slovak team will move to the capital city. Another reason was the economic point of view. While Slovaks will play the preliminary round matches on Kosice, Bratislava can become a home city for the Czech team. Moreover, considering logistics, it has really good location for tourists from abroad."
The groups are based on the 2018 IIHF Sport Regulations and the 2018 IIHF Men’s World Ranking established following the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship with one horizontal swap to accommodate special organizational needs and geographical considerations.
Slovakia with the cities of Bratislava and Kosice will host the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship for the second time after 2011. Bratislava was also a co-host in 1959 and 1992 during the Czechoslovak era.
A city of 650,000 inhabitants in the region, the Slovak capital of Bratislava has 4.2 million people in a 100-kilometre radius including Vienna. The Ondrej Nepela Arena, home of Slovak Bratislava of the KHL, has a capacity of 10,040 seats for hockey and two practice rinks under the same roof. Maintenance work is currently being conducted at the arena including a new refrigeration system, new boards according to the IIHF rules as well as changes in the dressing rooms and the arena technology. "During the current closure of the arena, we would like to enhance the IT system," said Roman Stambersky, organizing committee director for Bratislava.
Kosice is the country’s second-largest city with a population of 240,000. The Steel Arena offers 8,347 seats and an additional ice sheet for practices. It’s home to HC Kosice of the Slovak Extraliga. New boards will also be installed in Kosice. „We need to change the boards because of the new rules and regulations of the IIHF. From player’s point of view, they will be much safer, because they are flexible and so the chance of an injury is lower,“ explains Aneta Budi, organization committee director in Kosice.
Each venue will host 28 games in the preliminary round and two quarter-finals. The final weekend with the semi-finals and the medal games will be held in Bratislava.
The game schedule of the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will be established in the upcoming months. Ticket sale is expected to start in September. More details will be announced on the official website 2019.iihfworlds.com, which is available in English and Slovak.
Tickets will be sold in three phases, the first one will start in September. For the beginning, daily packages for the preliminary round and some other packages will be sold. The second phase will start in December, and entrance tickets for single matches will be on sale from February 2019.
There will be around 500 volunteers at the world championship. The television signal should be transmitted in 166 countries, which means 8,357 hours of TV transmition from the championship. 1,3 billions of spectators all over the world should watch the matches in Bratislava and Kosice. The organisers of 83th IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship expect 450,000 spectators coming to the ice rinks.
Groups of the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship