With the North American hockey world (and much of the rest of the world) focused on the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, I decided to have a look at the other teams that GB will have to face in the World Championships next week. What better way to spend my sick day from work than with a little research.
Disclaimer: By research, I mean a combination of the IIHF website and Wikipedia. I apologise in advance for any erroneous stats or figures – I know how unreliable Wikipedia can be, but I don’t have many other choices right now.
Current IIHF rankings have GB sitting in 20th position overall, followed by Ukraine, Japan, Korea and Netherlands. GB has quite a large lead over Ukraine, which puts them in a good position going into these chapionships. [You can see the current rankings over at IIHF.com]
So, one by one, in alphabetical order, here’s our competition:
Currently 10 positions behind GB, they’ve spent a lot of time bouncing up and down from division 1 to division 2 and back. Their overall international record is 61–115–9 (Win-Lose-Tie) and they only came back up to division 1 last year. There are no NHLers on their team, although they have a few from the Russian KHL, and according to their roster, a goaltender from the UK’s own Slough Jets, Andrej Vasiljevic. The Round Robin schedule has GB playing them first on Sunday 20th April,
Lithuania is currently ranked 26th, and while they’ve stayed in Division 1 for the last 10 years, they’ve often come in 5th position – barely keeping themselves from relegation. Their overall international record is 49–74–9 and the majority of their players are from Energija Elektrenai who are the number 1 team in the Lithuanian Hockey League. However, they also have a couple of their own Slough Jets on the team roster, Andrius Kaminskas and Mindaugas Kieras, as well as the NHL player Dainius Zubrus from the New Jersey Devils.
Obviously we’ve seen a little of the Netherlands team in action already, during the two pre-tournament games. Rated 24th by the IIHF, they’ve been solidly in division 1 for a long time, usually coming out in the middle of the rankings. Almost all of their players come from one of the 7 teams in the Eredivise, the only professional ice hockey league in the Netherlands. They currently have an international record of 209–357–54.
Said to be our toughest rival, they are currently ranked 25th by the IIHF. Like the Netherlands, they have been solidly in division 1 and have come in second place for the last two years, just missing out on promotion to group A. The bulk of their players come from the Polish Hockey League, although they have an EIHL player on their roster, goaltender Kamil Kosowski of the Cardiff Devils. Their overall record is 396–443–91 and they’re going to be fighting to avoid a second place disappointment again.
In 24th position according to the IIHF, they have bounced up and down between divisions 1 and 2 in recent years. Most of their players are from one of two teams in the Romanian Hockey League with a lot of them coming from HSC Csíkszereda, who have won their league title 7 years in a row. Their overall record is 282–319–48 which means they could be a tough opponent.
If you wanted to compare those overall international records to those of Team GB, our is currently 167–198–36. We’ve stayed solidly in division 1, although, as previously mentioned, we’ve gone up and down between group A and B quite regularly. I’d say that Poland and Romania might be our hardest games, but Netherlands are likely to give us a good run for our money too.
So come on then, roll on Sunday, and #LetsGoGB!
Feel free to leave a comment here, or come chat to me on Twitter @CarolinaKaniac