Your quick guide to the World Ice Hockey Championship in Rīga

Take note – story published 2 years ago

The 16 strongest national ice hockey teams are participating in the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship in Rīga from May 21. The Latvian national team under the leadership of Canadian head coach Bob Hartley, also hopes for great success

According to the IIHF rankings, the favorite to win the championship is Canada, followed by Russia and Finland, which won the last world championship in 2019.

When and where do championship games take place?

  • The first games of the championship will take place on Friday, May 21. The champions will be known in the last game of the tournament on the evening of June 6.
  • The games will take place at two venues: Arena Riga and the Olympic Sports Center.

What is the tournament format?

  • In the championship, 16 teams are divided into two groups of eight, deemed Group A and Group B.
  • Each group will play a round-robin tournament until June 1, after which the top four teams in each group will advance to the knockout stages.

When does the Latvian national team play?

  • The Latvian national team will play the first game in group B on May 21 against Canada. The group round continues against Kazakhstan, Italy, USA, Norway, Finland and Germany. If Latvia makes the playoffs, the quarter-finals will be played from June 3.

  • Group A will include Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Slovakia, Denmark, Belarus and the United Kingdom. The decision by the International Court of Arbitration for Sport as a result of Russia's notorious sports doping history prevents the Russian national team per se from representing its country in the World Cup, therefore Russian hockey players start under the flag of the National Olympic Committee.
  • The full game calendar can be found in LSM's dedicated Latvian language championship section and the official website of the tourmanent.  

What are Latvia's chances to reach the quarterfinals?

  • Led by coach Bob Hartley, the Latvian national team has played once in the quarterfinals, in 2018, but also in 2017 and 2019 it did pretty well, ranking 10th.
  • Latvia is currently in 10th place in the world ranking, and making the last eight or better would probably be regarded as a success.

Who plays for the Latvian national team?

  • The Latvian national team brings together an experienced group of established names, plus a few young tyros, although the team does not have several of its best National Hockey League (NHL) players available.
  • The only debutant in the squad is Renārs Krastenbergs, while veteran goalscorer Mikēlis Rēdlihs is preparing for his 13th World Championships.
  • The squad includes 16 attackers, nine defenders and three goalkeepers.

Will the games be seen in person?

  • The games were originally mandated to take place without spectators in the stands. However, the Latvian parliament made a last-minute decision on May 20 that spectators who have been fully vaccinated or who have recovered from Covid-19 infection will be allowed in the stands. Despite this, it is likely that at least during the early games there will be no spectators.
  • Due to epidemiological constraints, it is also not planned to create 'fan areas' outside the arenas as has been the case with previous tournaments.

How will the team results be listed in the tournament table?

  • For a victory in regular time, a team is wins three points, success in extra time or a sudden death shoot-out will provide two points, but a loss in extra time or in a shoot-out will be worth one point.
  • If several teams finish the group tournament with the same number of points, the distribution of places will be determined by the outcomes of the games against each other.
  • If three or more teams finish in the group with the same number of points and the number of points scored in mutual games is the same, the next decisive factors will be goal difference and the number of goals scored in mutual games. 

How will the knockout tournament work?

  • Teams of different groups will meet in the quarterfinals, with top-placed teams in one group meeting bottom-placed teams in the other, according to the system 1A-4B, 2A-3B, 1B-4A, 2B-3A.
  • The winners of the quarter-finals will be paired in the semi-finals according to their ranking in the group round, again with highest place versus lowest in the semi-finals.
  • The winners of the semi-finals will meet in the title match on June 6, and the losers in the semi finals will meet to determine the bronze medal winners.

How will the winner of the game be determined if the result is tied after regular time?

  • If the result is tied after three periods, the game will continue in overtime. If no team scores in extra time, the winner will be determined in a series of post-match shoot-outs. 
  • In group round games, extra time will last until the first goal is scored or five minutes if no goal is scored. In knockout tournament games, extra time will last up to 10 minutes. Different conditions will apply in the final, where no post-match shoot-out is scheduled. In case of a tie at the end of regular time, the winner will be determined in one or more 20-minute extensions until a team scores the winning goal.
  • In extra time, each team will have a goalkeeper and three field players.
  • In shoot-outs, each team will delegate five hockey players. If at the end of that series, the scores are still tied, the series will continue until the winner is determined. 

How will teams be able to change players during games?

  • Each country can take a squad of 28 ice hockey players to the championship, but for each individual game, the squad can include only 20 field players and two goalkeepers.
  • Teams are not restricted from switching to a different line-up for each game, as long as all hockey players are in the basic squad of 28 players. 
  • By the beginning of the championship, the team must register at least 17 hockey players - 15 field players and two goalkeepers. Other participants can be registered and added during the tournament if required.

Will any team lose its place in the elite group after the tournament?

  • At the end of the championship, no team will fall to a lower level. 
  • This means that the same teams that will play in Rīga 2021 will also participate in the 2022 World Championship regardless of how they finish.

Where will you be able to see the games? 

  • All Latvian national team games and some other matches will be shown live on LTV7 and in Latvia. All other championship games will be available on Tet 360TV and 360TV Hockey. For international viewing options, see the official tournament website and the IIHF YouTube channel which will be carrying live games.


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