IIHF World Championship Underway
IIHF World Championship Underway
Current & Former Sharks Participating in Top Annual Tournament
By Justin Tetrault- Worcester Sharks Public Relations Intern
Although hockey season for your local Sharks has ended a little earlier than we all hoped, there is still plenty of hockey going on throughout the rest of the world that can still garner your attention if you are craving some hockey! Three players within the Sharks organization, Tommy Wingels, Tomas Hertl, and Marek Viedemsky have all been playing in this year’s International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship. This tournament features the top sixteen hockey nations in the world and includes many current and former NHLers. The IIHF World Championship is held annually every spring during the NHL and AHL playoffs, with players joining the tournament as various points during the preliminary round after being eliminated from their respective team’s playoff pushes.
The International Ice Hockey Federation organizes the World Championship tournament every spring, with this years’ event spanning from May 9th to the 25th in the city of Minsk, Belarus. The event features a sixteen team layout, separated in two Groups that play seven games in the preliminary round to determine seeds. Once seeds are determined, the top four teams from each Group advance to an 8 team quarterfinal and continue to advance until the World Champion is determined. However, the significant difference between this tournament and the Olympics is that many countries do not use their best players. For instance, countries that produce lots of NHL talent such as Canada and the United States, tend to send players out to compete who would not otherwise be afforded an opportunity to represent their country in international play, as well as sending top prospects to acclimate playing against professionals. NBC Sports, known as the "hockey channel" to hockey fans throughout the United States, actually broadcast some of the games live, so if you wish to catch some action, check your local television guide because these games are being held across the pond in Belarus, meaning there is a significant time zone difference!
Like I mentioned above, three players within the Sharks organization you are probably familiar with are competing in the IIHF World Championship. Tommy Wingels(USA) and Marek Viedensky(Slovakia) from Worcester as well as Tomas Hertl(Czech Republic) from our parent club out in San Jose. Tommy Wingels, former Worcester Sharks fan favorite and rookie of the year in 2011 managed to graduate to the big club in San Jose this past season and stick there all year long, but has been held without a point so far in the tournament. However, after leading the San Jose Sharks in game winning goals this past season with seven, he has the opportunity to leave his mark when the games matter most as Team USA advances to the quarterfinals. Current Shark Marek Viedensky contributed three goals and one assist while dressing in all seven games for Slovakia, who will not be advancing to the quarterfinal round of the tournament. Tomas Hertl, who was one of the most exciting rookies in the NHL this past season before getting injured, started his tournament off with a bang after San Jose was eliminated from the playoffs and hasn’t looked back since, giving the Czech Republic a big scoring boost on the their top line as he has potted in two goals to go with three assists in five games since his arrival.
Russia is appearing to be the tournaments’ top team, undefeated thus far at 7W 0L 0 OTL and outscoring opponents by a dominant 31 to 7 margin. They also have the most star powered roster in the tournament, even as Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals injured his knee after a devastating open ice hit against the Germans which ended his tournament. Sitting behind Russia in Group B is the United States, which at 5W 2L 0 OTL, made up of lots of young talent and suffering a tough upset loss at the hands of Latvia. Canada and Sweden are also in the mix in Group A with records of 6W 0L 1OTL, with Canada boasting a team made up entirely of NHL talent, while Sweden has taken the opposite approach by going with a team made up almost exclusively by players of the Swedish Elite League.
The tournament quarterfinals begin Thursday May 22nd, with the gold medal championship game being held on Sunday the 25th. Keep up to date with the tournament at their official website: http://www.iihfworlds2014.com/en/ or try to catch a game by checking the viewing guides on NBC Sports to see if and when any of the elimination games of the tournament will be on television. Both Tomas Hertl and Tommy Wingels have advanced to the elimination round for their respective countries and will be facing off against each other in a quarterfinal matchup, so root for your two Sharks and hope that the winner of that match up can make a big impact on the remainder of the tournament and take home a gold medal!