Six teams, three Olympic spots
by Martin Merk|29 AUG 2021
A record number of 45 countries entered their teams with the hope to compete at the 2022 Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament in Beijing with the top-8 countries plus host China qualified directly.

That means three spots remained open for 36 countries going through the Olympic Qualification. Only 12 of them were left this week when the Final Olympic Qualification started. On the last day it’s just six teams remaining in contention for the three spots.

In Bratislava host Slovakia is the only undefeated team and will only need one point from the last game against Belarus to finish first, thus a regulation-time tie will already be enough to qualify for the Olympics.

If Belarus beats Slovakia in regulation time but Poland doesn’t against Austria, Belarus will advance to Beijing 2022.

If both Belarus (vs. Slovakia) and Poland (vs. Austria) win in regulation time, a three-way tie of these teams with Slovakia will be created. Since the teams will also be tied in head-to-head points, the goal difference will be the next tie-breaker. Slovakia has a +4 goal difference ahead of the game while Belarus is at -1, which means Belarus would in this case have to win with a margin of three goals or more while Poland (-3) is out of contention for first place.

Slovakia will play Belarus on Sunday at 17:30 local team. Click here for the stream.
The situation in the other groups looks easier with two undefeated teams facing in each other both in Riga and in Oslo.

In Riga host Latvia leads the standings with two wins and an impressive 15-0 goal record while France has also been undefeated with 7-3 goals. It will be a winner-takes-it-all clash between the two countries. Even though Latvia may enter the game as a favourite on paper, the Latvians will be careful with this role having lost the last Olympic Qualification tournament at Arena Riga to another opponent from the west, Germany, which eventually ended up as Olympic silver medallists in PyeongChang 2018.

Latvia will play France on Sunday at at 17:00 local time (16:00 CET). Click here for the stream.
The situation is similar in Oslo where host Norway and Denmark have been undefeated with the Danes leading the group thanks to their better goal difference. Norway aims to use home-ice advantage and play at the Olympics for the fourth consecutive time.

The Danes on the other hand hope to make it to the Olympics for the first time ever. Five NHL players on the roster will help the Danes to overcome the curse but the red-and-white team has failed to qualify in similar situations in past Olympic Qualification tournaments and will be happy to end the curse.

Norway plays Denmark in Oslo on Sunday at 16:00. Click here for the stream.