Monday, May 19, 2014

The 2014 IIHF World Ice Hockey Championship Results (Part One)

Welcome to the first of a miniseries of posts I am going to make about the 2014 IIHF World Ice Hockey Championship tournament. Most people don't realize that this tournament isn't just sixteen teams competing to win the gold medal. Not true. There are dozens of countries in various divisions competing to rise up the ladder of international ice hockey. In this, the 78th edition of the IIHF tournament, there are actually 46 teams trying to improve their international ranking and someday grab the gold medal. It's fascinating to me to see countries you never would have expected to even have an ice hockey team battling in all of the divisions, desperate to climb the ladder and topple the hockey giants like Sweden, Canada, and Russia.

Today I'm going to look at the sixth tier of the tournament, known as "Division III". This tournament took place in Luxembourg from April 6th to April 12th, and featured six teams. Here are the standings:

All graphs and charts for this series are courtesy of Wikipedia. Their graphs are so neat.

As you can see, the tournament has a lot of relatively new programs competing against European countries who have long been participating in the lower tiers of the IIHF. This was Hong Kong's first participation in the tournament since 1987, which led to its first taste of competition against European countries. UAE's team is brand hammer new, with its first international game taking place in 2007. North Korea's team is also only 30 years old. Luxembourg's is only 22 years old.

At first glance, this seems like an unbalanced edition of the tournament, with nearly 12 goals scored a game and the three top teams vying for the chance to be promoted to the next division. Most of the teams' rosters are the country's best teams throwing on a national jersey. Bulgaria's roster being mainly CSKA Sofia, North Korea's a hodgepodge of Pyongyang Choldo and Taesongsan, Luxembourg being Tornado Luxembourg, and Georgia's being Mimino Bakuriani. It's quite the contrast to upper tiers of the IIHF where the best players come from numerous talent pools but often only the upper echelons of domestic leagues.

Here's a list of the top scorers:

And the top goaltenders:

Top honours went to Alexei Yotov, Clement Waltener, and Ho King Chi King for top forward, defenseman, and goaltender respectively. Bulgaria gets promoted up to the fifth tier of the IIHF, Division II B. The rest will have to wait until next year's competition to earn its way out of the IIHF's basement.

Next up, Division II B in this series of posts all about the IIHF mega-tournament. Hopefully as we rise the ladder it will be easier to find information on some of these players...

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