Sochi Olympics 2014: A Brief Men’s Ice Hockey Tournament Overview

Image courtesy of ibtimes.com.

Welcome to Sochi, Russia where it’s currently 50 degrees as I write this, and I am near certain there’s not a snowflake for miles – at least until you trek out to Krasnaya Polyana and the Mountain Cluster venues. There are 98 events at this year’s Winter Games, but I am only going to focus on one: Men’s Ice Hockey.

Aside from the Women’s Hockey tournament, it is my primary concern, as it is every four years in February. If you’re looking for an in depth, matchup, roster and statistical breakdown, this will not be it. I’m going to try and keep it simple and succinct in the hopes of helping some of those folks out there who may not be as familiar with the Olympic tournament and/or the sport of Ice Hockey in general.

The Venues

Image courtesy of architectism.com

The city of Sochi built two new beautiful arenas in advance of hosting the 2014 Games, The Bolshoy Ice Dome, completed in 2012, (Capacity: 12,000) will be the primary venue for Men’s hockey, while Shayba Arena, completed in 2013, (Capacity: 7,000) will host the majority of the Women’s matches and a handful for the Men.

Something I found to be extremely cool, is that Shayba Arena is “moveable”, and is available to be re-located to another city post-games. There’s one way to make sure all of the money Putin put up to make Sochi the most lavish Olympics in history, will not go to waste! I wonder which lucky KHL team might have dibs on that one?

The Countries and Format

The tournament has the competing nations broken down into three groups of four teams each, as follows:

Group A

Russia

Slovakia

United States of America

Slovenia

Group B

Finland

Canada

Norway

Austria

Group C

Czech Republic

Sweden

Switzerland

Latvia

According to sochi2014.iihf.com/men/ the format is set up as such:

The 12 teams are seeded in three groups of four teams each and will play a round robin within their group including 18 games (three per team). The teams and groups were seeded according to the 2012 IIHF Men’s World Ranking. The tournament includes the top-nine nations and three qualifiers.”

Prior to the Games, the top nine teams according to IIHF ranking earned automatic qualification, while the final three qualified their way in. For a more detailed break down of the tournament format, head over to their official site.

The Schedule

Image courtesy of sportsillustrated.cnn.com.

Don’t worry, even though the Games have begun, Men’s Ice Hockey won’t face off until this-coming Wednesday, the 12th. Refer to this schedule for the preliminary matches and adjust accordingly for your time zone to know when the matches are on! (All times Sochi time, UTC+04:00)

12 February

Czech Republic V. Sweden 21:00 (Bolshoy Ice Dome)

Latvia V. Switzerland 21:00 (Shayba Arena)

13 February

Finland V. Austria 12:00 (Bolshoy)

Slovakia V. United States of America 16:30 (Shayba)

Russia V. Slovenia 16:30 (Bolshoy)

Canada V. Norway 21:00 (Bolshoy)

14 February

Czech Republic V. Latvia 12:00 (Bolshoy)

Sweden V. Switzerland 16:30 (Bolshoy)

Norway V. Finland 21:00 (Shayba)

Canada V. Austria 21:00 (Bolshoy)

15 February

Slovakia V. Slovenia 12:00 (Bolshoy)

United States of America V. Russia 16:30 (Bolshoy)

Switzerland V. Czech Republic 21:00 (Bolshoy)

Sweden V. Latvia 21:00 (Shayba)

16 February

Austria V. Norway 12:00 (Bolshoy)

Russia V. Slovakia 16:30 (Bolshoy)

Slovenia V. United States of America 16:30 (Shayba)

Finland V. Canada 21:00 (Bolshoy)

I should note, if you’re in the U.S., all of America’s matches will be on NBC Sports Network at 07:30 EST. Following the prelims, the qualification matches will be on Tuesday, 18 February.

The Quarterfinal round will be played on Wednesday, 19 February with the Semifinals on Friday, 21 February. The Bronze and Gold Medal Games are to be held Saturday and Sunday, 22 and 23 February, respectively.

Check listings to see who’s playing when/where and what time as it gets closer to deciding medalists.

Every Four Years

Image courtesy of eonline.com.

Most importantly, enjoy the games! Whatever events you’re into, the Winter Olympics only roll around every four years, so take them in.

Unfortunately, Sochi has been marred by many political and human rights debates as well and it’s a shame that’s how its come to be. It would be impossible to watch and not acknowledge this, I’ll leave opinions to the way-side however and keep them for another time and place.

Remember most of all, when viewing the games, the hard work and efforts put forth by the athletes, trainers and everybody involved to make it possible for each player from each country to qualify and be selected to be a part of this year’s Winter Olympics.

It’s truly once in a lifetime, so give them your support and hope to see your nation on the Medal Podium come game day!

Follow Dylan on Twitter, and while you’re at it follow Ice Nation UK for all the best hockey talk!

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