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By International Hockey Lineal Championship

May 5th, 2016

The grand finale of the international hockey calendar is set to begin on May 6 in Russia, with the top 16 hockey nations on earth meeting in Russia to compete at the 80th IIHF World Championship.

Group A will play in Moscow, with host Russia facing off against Sweden, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Latvia, Norway, Denmark, and the promoted Kazakhstan team. Russia, loaded with KHL prospects and NHLers like Sergei Bobrovski, Viktor Tikhonov and Alexei Emelin, and playing before a home crowd still reeling from their 2014 Olympic performance in Sochi, will be heavily motivated to perform. Both Sweden and the Czechs are lacking from NHL players, and both are lacking by way of elite goaltenders. Pending the emergence of a dark horse like Switzerland or Norway out of the group, the Russians should be able to run away from the pack early to excite the Moscow faithful and clinch Group A without much competition besides the aforementioned Swedes or Czechs.

Group B plays in Saint Petersburg, with Canada leading the group, among Finland, the United States, Slovakia, Belarus, France, Germany and the promoted Hungarian squad. Canada will face a challenge from 2015 in that they are not this year loaded with snipers like Sidney Crosby, Jason Spezza or Tyler Seguin, and while they still boast the likes of Connor McDavid and Corey Perry, this team is very green, not just in international experience, but being a very young team altogether. The Americans face a similar predicament, with a number of young NHLers and college stars making up their roster, It appears that Finland, with a nice balance of NHL stars like Jussi Jokinen, Aleksander Barkov and Mikko Koivu and KHL/Liiga players, has the most rounded roster in the group, and pending a surprise, they should emerge atop the group.

More than just Gold Medals and bragging rights are on the line, however, as the world will reconvene in just four short months in Toronto for the resuscitated World Cup Of Hockey, with all teams and players hoping for momentum entering the tournament.


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Growing up in Canada I was a huge hockey fan, but it wasn't until the 1972 summit series and the 1976 Canada Cup that I became a big fan of international hockey. The best players in world all playing on a sheet of ice. 
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