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NHL Players Shine at the IIHF World Championships

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The months of May and June are massive months in regards to the hockey season, and even though the weather outside may be warm, the rinks are still ice cold and ready for the most intense hockey action of the entire year. Any player that plays in the NHL dreams of playing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the end of each season, but as only half of the 32 teams make it to the playoffs and only eight make it to relatively longer runs, most players get these two crucial months off from their NHL clubs. 

However, during these months also comes a time for players whose teams didn’t make it to the playoffs to get the chance to play for their home country during the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships. This year, Czechia played host to the star-studded tournament, with current NHL players and prospects across all 32 teams joining together in hopes of winning a medal for their home country.

How the Tournament Works

The tournament is divided between an ‘A’ group and a ‘B’ group, with eight teams aside. Each team plays seven preliminary round games within their group, with three points earned for regulation wins, two points for overtime wins, and one point for overtime losses. The top four teams of each group at the end of the preliminary round make it to the three round playoff. 

This year, Canada, Czechia, Switzerland, Germany, United States, Slovakia, Sweden, and Finland made it to the playoff rounds. The host country Czechia came up with a massive 1-0 upset against the United States, sending them to the semifinals along with Canada, Sweden, and Switzerland. Czechia wasn’t the only country to come up with a massive upset as Switzerland defeated the reigning champions of Team Canada in the semifinal round, sending them to the gold medal game against Czechia. It was a massive tournament for the host country, as Czechia was able to defeat Switzerland with a final score of 2-0, and brought the gold medal home in front of all the local fans. David Pastrnak scored the go ahead goal in the third period, which allowed his team to close out the game.

One of the best parts about this tournament is how it really allows star players on teams that aren’t always successful to show off their talent and really shine. It allows top skaters on every different team to come together and play with other amazing star players, which tends to lead to lots of offense and a great showing of skills. 

Notable Players

Courtesy of Andrea Branca/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

One of the strongest teams throughout this tournament has been Switzerland, and their players have really been shining in many different ways throughout every game. Kings’ Kevin Fiala, Devils’ Nico Hischier, and Predators’ Roman Josi have carried their team from start to end. All three averaged more than a point per game, and not only opened the scoring but created scoring chances for everyone else on their team. Hischier and Fiala finished the tournament with a +6 rating, while Josi finished with a +4. With players like this taking the team on their backs, it’s no wonder they made it as far in the tournament as they did. 

Matt Boldy of Team USA led the entire tournament in points, with 14 in just eight games played. He also finished with an astounding +8, showing just how strong of a player he was for Team USA. Boldy currently plays on the Minnesota Wild, who were just on the verge of a playoff berth in the Western Conference this season. This tournament was sure to be good for the 23-year-old forward’s confidence heading into training camp and the start of the 2024-25 NHL season.

Brady Tkachuk, captain of Team USA, finished third in points in the tournament with 13 in eight games played. Tkachuk didn’t just stand out because of his knack for point scoring, but his ability to play in the defensive zone as well as creating offensive chances for his teammates around him. His physical style of play allowed for his team to create these chances that otherwise wouldn’t be possible.

Johnny Gaudreau continued to stun at this year’s tournament as well, as he moved to the sole record holder for most overall points in IIHF World Championship play for Team USA with 43 total points throughout his time playing in the tournament. He also passed the 30 assists mark, also clearing him of Patrick Kane for that all-time record. Gaudreau has been a constant factor for Team USA throughout the years in the tournament, yet hasn’t been able to crack that gold medal yet.

One of the best stories of the tournament was Lukas Dostal’s play, including the shutout in the gold medal game for Czechia. He finished the tournament with an astounding .939 save percentage, and averaged only 1.58 goals against. He also played the most games out of any goaltender in the tournament because of his consistent play. 

Overall, the IIHF World Championship Tournament is one of the most exciting times of the year for players that don’t make it to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and gives exciting and meaningful games for players hoping to represent their home countries. 

Edited by Breanna Ebisch

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