Preparation works for the tournament began basically immediately after the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship to Slovakia when the country expressed its interest to host the event.
“The IIHF rules determine that the U18 Women’s World Championship with eight participants has to be played in the two venues. Therefore it is our big advantage that we do have an arena with two rinks which allows you to move between the rinks with a dry foot,” said Lubomira Kozanova, who chairs the organizing committee.
Whereas the men’s World Championship in May was held in the Ondrej Nepela Arena, the elite U18 female players will come to the smaller Vlado Dzurilla Ice Rink in the city borough of Ruzinov. The choice of this venue, however, is not a coincidence. The tournament director highly praises the professional cooperation with the local government authorities.
“I have to say a big thank you to the mayor of the borough of Ruzinov, Martin Chren, and deputy mayor Michal Gasaj, who both welcome the idea of organizing the championship with an extraordinary enthusiasm. In the cooperation with the local government and Ruzinov’s sports club, which is the operator of the arena, we are currently finalizing the last adjustments in both venues in order to ensure maximum comfort not only for teams, IIHF representatives, but also for spectators and supporters of women's hockey,” Kozanova added.
The tournament consists of eight teams (Canada, USA, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Slovakia) which will be assigned to the two tiered groups according to the placement from the last year’s U18 Women’s World Championship with the top-four teams playing in Group A and the remaining teams in Group B.
The best two teams from Group A will qualify directly to the semi-finals, teams placed in 3rd and 4th place in Group A will meet the best two teams from the other group in quarter-final crossover games. Teams ranked 3rd and 4th in Group B will play a best-of-three relegation round, whose winner will survive and avoid relegation.
Host Slovakia as a newcomer after winning last year’s Division I Group A tournament will be seeded in Group B of the competition with Sweden, Switzerland and neighboring Czech Republic.
“A World Championship on home ice is always a big challenge,” said Peter Kudelka, the head coach of the Slovak U18 women’s national team. “We have been preparing to this challenge all year long since we gained promotion in January at the U18 Women’s World Championship Division I Group A that took place in Austria. We do know that we are in the Top Division for the first time, but as I said right after the promotion, we all hope this promotion will not be the singular appearance. Therefore, we are not talking about avoiding relegation, our goal is to make the quarter-finals,” he added.
The 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 Women’s World Championship is the first important international tournament sanctioned by the IIHF that takes place in Slovakia within the following months. In April 2020, the city of Spisska Nova Ves will welcome the participants of the 2020 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship Division I Group A on the men’s side and Slovakia will host one of the three groups of the men’s Final Olympic Qualification in September as well in a city to be determined.
All these three tournaments are extremely important for the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation. “We are honoured that we have got the opportunity to host the U18 Women’s World Championship during our first appearance amongst the elite in this category. After the successful men’s World Championship in May, where we proved ourselves as reliable hosts, we do want to confirm our reputation and prepare the championship that brings only the positive emotions for all, players, teams and fans,” said Martin Kohut, the Slovak Ice Hockey Federation Council member and Vice President of the Slovak Olympic Committee. “At the same time, this tournament will serve as an impulse for women's hockey in Slovakia. We feel that women’s hockey is moving forward in our country and hopefully we experience the first success in terms of results in the near future.”
The ambassador of the World Championship is Deputy Prime Minister of Slovak Republic Richard Rasi, who does have a special relationship to women's hockey. “I used to be the team doctor of the Slovak women’s national team back in the first years of 2000s and thus there is no surprise that I consider hockey as a wonderful sport for all women. I sincerely hope that this championship will help women’s hockey in Slovakia and hopefully the first results will follow.”
Tickets went on sale online on ticketmedia.sk. A day ticket cost 5 euros during the whole championships. Kids and teenagers up to 15 years as well as pensioners will have a 50 per cent discount. Click here to order tickets. It is also possible to buy ticket at TicketMedia stores around Slovakia.