Wednesday, January 6, 2010

World Junior Hockey Championships not over yet!

With the USA's exciting 6-5 overtime victory over Canada that garnered them the World Junior Hockey Championship, you might think that's it for junior hockey this year. Well, you would be wrong. The IIHF actually has 5 other junior hockey competitions, divided into 3 divisions. Although Divisions I and II recently concluded their tournaments, the Division III championship just began on Monday in Istanbul, Turkey. Featuring hockey powers such as Australia, Iceland, and North Korea, it's not surprising that this event gets no press whatsoever. But it certainly makes for an intriguing road trip destination - I don't think too many people would expect Turkey to have an ice rink never mind a national team.

Update: The Division III tournament is over. Here are the final rankings:

1. Australia - won the final 3-1
2. Iceland
3. North Korea - won the 3rd place game 6-5
4. New Zealand
5. Taiwan - won the 5th place game 6-3
6. Turkey
7. Bulgaria - lost 8-7 to Turkey and are the worst junior hockey team in the world!

On to the original post:

There are some other interesting things to note from the other tournaments. For one, the teams are not evenly matched at all. In Division II-A, which took place in Hungary last month, the Hungarian team impressed by scoring 66 goals in only 5 games. Of course, 28 of those came in a game against a hapless Mexican team, who scored 4 goals and gave up 77 (yes, 77) in their 5 games. Sadly for the Hungarians, they lost to Great Britain in overtime and thus missed out on promotion to Division I for next year's tourney.

In fact, every tournament results in one team being promoted and one team being relegated where possible. This year Norway and Germany won their groups in Division I and they will participate in the 2011 tournament to be held in Buffalo, NY. In the top tournament, Latvia and Austria finished at the bottom and will have to play in Division I next year. I'm not sure where that tournament will be played, but Japan is participating, so maybe they'll try to have it here.

I find it interesting that ice hockey is actually being played by so many countries. I'll be following both the senior and junior tournaments for road trip ideas as some of these tournaments are held in fairly exotic locations such as Estonia. As for 2011 and Buffalo, I'm already thinking it might be a good reason to make it home for Christmas.

Best,

Sean

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