Thursday, May 22, 2014

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

Welcome to the fourth post 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. 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.

Links for Part One, Two, and Three are right here, where I painstakingly checked out Division III, Division II B, and Division II A respectively.

Yesterday's post described Division II A in all its glory. Congratulations to the Estonian national team for clobbering Division II A and moving up into Division I B for next year's tournament. I-B is the subject of today's post, as it is the third tier of the IIHF tournament. This year's iteration took place in beautiful Vilnius, Lithuania from April 20th to 26th and THANK GOD SOME NHLERS ARE IN THIS TOURNAMENT. All due respect to other leagues in Europe, I know nothing about their players unless they played at some point in North America. It's been a struggle reporting on these lower tiers but finally I have a chance to talk about players I am familiar with. Here are the tournament standings:

All standings are courtesy of Wikipedia.
Poland advances in to Division I A and moves one step closer to getting a chance to play in the top tier. Poland's win is all the more impressive because they were able to defeat a Lithuania team led by this man.

Image courtesy of Lisa Gansky via Wikipedia.

That's right, it's New Jersey Devils forward Danius Zubrus! He had a great tournament with 9 points in 5 games, but the Lithuanians fells short of rising to the top in a very competitive division. The top four teams finished within three points of each other and there were several one goal games that were key in setting up sight a tight contest. Great Britain had a great showing this year, winning a 4-2 contest against the eventual champion, Poland.

Here are the tournament's top scorers:

Zubrus and his linemates were the toast of the tournament. Shoutout to Colin Shields of Great Britain, who netted a hatrick against the Poles. Most impressive. I predict next tournament Great Britain pushes up the standings and contends to move up to Division I A.

Here are the tournament goaltenders:

Polish goaltender Przemyslaw Odrobny was arguably the MVP of the Division I B tournament, winning four games and only conceding four goals with a .955 save percentage. This division, more-so than the previous ones, was very tight series of contests that turned into goaltending duels. Those are some impressive stat lines for the goaltenders. The tournament directive selected Zubrus as top forward, Odrobny as goaltender, and Alan Letang from, Croatia for defenseman. Letang had a cup of coffee in the NHL, playing in 14 games with only 2 PIM to show for it. He has been a mainstay in the German and Austrian leagues for the vast majority of his career.

Tomorrow we visit Division I A, the second highest tier on the IIHF tournament. Thanks for taking the time to check out these surveys of the tournaments, it's been a pleasure writing them. See you again tomorrow!

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