The teams play a single round-robin series. Each teams plays each opponent once. The first or the first two top-ranked teams of the event will be promoted to the Top Division. The last-ranked team will be relegated to Division I Group B.
If Belarus and Latvia need to be protected from relegation from the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship, only one team from the 2020 IIHF IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship will be relegated and only the winner from 2020 IIHF IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A will be promoted.
Three Point System
For all games 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 Penalty-Shot Shootout if the teams are still tied following conclusion of the overtime period
- 0 points for the team losing the game in regulation time
If a game is tied at the end of regulation time, a five-minute overtime period shall be played after a three-minute intermission. The teams will not change ends for the overtime period. The game will end when the five minutes have expired or when a goal is scored; the scoring team will be declared the winner. If no goal is scored in the overtime period then the Penalty-Shot Shootout Procedure will apply. All overtime periods of any IIHF preliminary-round or round-robin game shall be played with each team at the numerical strength of three (3) skaters and one (1) goaltender for games of the preliminary round.
Penalty-Shot Shootout Procedure
If no goal is scored in the overtime period then the Penalty-Shot Shootout (PSS) procedure will apply. The following procedure will be utilized:
- Five different shooters from each team will take alternate shots, until a decisive goal is scored.
- If the game is still tied after five shots by each team, the PSS 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.
- 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 his 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.
- The goaltenders will defend the same goal, as in the overtime period. The goaltenders 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.
- Only the decisive goal will count in the result of the game. It shall be credited to the team that scored the goal and charged against the team that was scored upon.
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 or none of the teams remain tied. In the case of two tied teams remaining, the game between the two would then be the determining tie-breaker as the game could not end as a tie. In the case of none of the teams being tied, the criteria specified in the respective step applies.
Step 1: 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.
Step 2: Should three or more teams still remain tied in points then the better goal difference in the direct games amongst the tied teams will be decisive.
Step 3: Should three or more teams still remain tied in points and goal difference then the highest number of goals scored by these teams in their direct games will be decisive
Step 4: Should three or more teams still remain tied in points, goal difference and goals scored 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
Step 5: 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.
Step 6: Should the teams still remain tied after these five steps have been exercised then Sport considerations will be applied and the teams will be ranked by their positions coming into the Championship (seeding).
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