Ice Hockey World Championships starting

The sixth-ranked Czech team faces a battle to bring home a medal

The 81st Ice Hockey World Championships are starting in Paris and Cologne, and the Czech team hopes to end its wait for medal. The competition will run from May 5 to 21.

The Czech team took bronze in 2012, but nothing since then. It has been the longest time without a medal since the Czech Republic became independent in 1993.

Team captain Jakub Voráček says he has high expectations that the Czech Team will do well because of its preparation. Historically, the Czech team won gold medals the last two times that the championships were in Germany, in 2001 and 2010. “They are beautiful memories … but it was seven years since [the last gold medal] so it is time to earn a medal again,” Voráček said, according to media reports.

Coach Josef Jandač was bit more cautious, even though the team performed well in the Czech Hockey Games in České Budějovice at the end of April. “We are not the favorites; we can't say that. We are gong to fight. We are among the teams that have a chance,” he said. The Czech team is currently ranked sixth of the 16 teams competing.

The favorite for the gold is Canada, which has been dominating the sport recently. They won the previous two World Championships, and last September they won the World Cup. They also won the Olympics in 2016.

Also ranked ahead of the Czech Republic are Russia, Finland, the United States and Sweden.

Several NHL stars will be in the tournament on different national teams.

Czech captain Jakub Voráček also plays for the Philadelphia Flyers. Other Czech team members coming from the NHL include Petr Mrázek of the Detroit Red Wings, Radko Gudas of the Philadelphia Flyers, Michal Kempný of the Chicago Blackhawks, Tomáš Plekanec of the Montreal Canadiens and David Pastrňák of the Boston Bruins.

Stars on other teams include Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the Sweden. From the same NHL team, Nikita Kucherov will be playing for Russia. Canada will have several NHL members including Ryan O'Reilly of the Buffalo Sabres, Claude Giroux of the Philadelphia Flyers and Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche.

The Ice Hockey World Championships are an annual international men's ice hockey tournament that have been held since 1920. They are the sport's highest profile annual international tournament and are organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).

In the history of the games, the Czech Republic or Czechoslovakia has won 46 medals including 12 gold. Russia or the Soviet Union has 45 medals, with 27 gold. Canada has 48 medals with 26 gold. 

The Beginners Guide to the IIHF World Championships

For those novice hockey fans among us, here is a run-down on the facts and figures for this year’s tournament.

- Current champions: Team Canada (winners of the IIHF Worlds 2016 in Moscow)
- There are a total of 16 teams competing spread over two groups
- Two hosting countries in 2017: Germany and France
- The top 16 teams in world (based on IIHF rankings) qualify for the tournament
- Slovenia and Italy are the two teams promoted this year into the “top 16”
- Each team plays 7 matches in the pool stage and the top 4 in the group advance to the next stage
- The pool stage lasts for 12 days and contains a total of 56 matches
- The final will be played at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne on May 21st 

Group A: Russia, United States, Sweden, Slovakia, Germany, Latvia, Denmark, Italy (all matches to be played at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne)

Group B: Canada, Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Belarus, Norway, France, Slovenia (all matches to be played at the AccorHotels Arena, Paris)

Where to watch the action in Prague?
Check our recently updated live sports pub guide: 9 Places to Watch Live Sports in Prague
Sports Bars Prague – Prague.TV Business Directory

For a full schedule of the action at this year’s World Championships you can visit the official IIHF site here.

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