Round gazillion of Team Canada vs Team USA kicks off this afternoon in Kamloops, BC. The first televised game is Canada vs USA at 7:30 Pacific, 10:30 in Toronto or Eastern. Here's what you need to know.
Sandman Centre all dressed up awaiting the World! #womensworlds #Kamloops @hockeycanada @iihfhockey pic.twitter.com/OjiwALdLoM— Murnaghan Photo (@MurnPhoto) 26 March 2016
The tournament is a week long, starting today and finishing with the gold and bronze medal games on Monday, April 4th. The 8 teams involved form the "Top Division" of IIHF play. Three days of round robin preliminary play (March 28, 29 and 31) will be followed by the playoff rounds and the best of three relegation tournament.
The top two teams in Group A (and if that's not Canada and USA, then there's your first point of drama) after the round robin move to the Semi-Final round automatically. There will be two Quarter-Final games: the third-ranked team in Group A will play the second-ranked team in Group B, and the fourth-ranked team in Group A will play the highest-ranked team in Group B.
The Semi-Final winners will move to the Gold Medal game and the Semi-Final losers will play the Bronze medal game
The third and fourth ranked teams in group B will have a best-of-three relegation tournament, the loser of which will be relegated to Division IA (who are currently playing their own tournament in Denmark, finishing on March 31st. If you follow New York Riveters' Janine Weber on Twitter, she's in Denmark with Team Austria).
So, why should you care? Bragging rights, of course! Canada and the US come into the tournament tied in ranking points. (Technically USA is ranked first because they won the last encounter.) Whoever finishes higher will be ranked first for Olympic play in 2018, so expect patriotic gifs all over the comments (and on twitter).
For those of you rooting for other teams, Finland, Switzerland, Sweden and Russia (and maaybe Japan if they do much better than expected) are looking to gain enough points to rank in the top 5 and automatically qualify for PyeongChang. After Worlds there will be two Olympic spots left and the teams will have to battle it out in other qualifying events.
There are a plethora of CWHL and NWHL players in the tournament, as well as many who have played in several international tournaments (Calgary Inferno's Rebecca Johnston played her 100th game for Team Canada last week), so some names will sound familiar. Katyaknappe and Gunnar Carlsson have done a couple player profiles already, on Jennifer Wakefield and Laura Fortino but expect to see a few more throughout the tournament. You should also check out Ben's interview with Natalie Spooner.
TSN has the full tournament schedule and it seems like they'll be doing game logs for every game. They have a pretty comprehensive site for the tournament. They'll be airing Group A and the medal rounds. (If you're not in Canada, download the TSN GO app - you won't be able to watch anything from the actual TSN channels but you might be able to watch if they have bonus streams.) For Americans, the NHL Network is also carrying games, although a lot of them will be on tape delay.
If you're on twitter, the only verified team account I can find is @HC_Women but the usual suspects will be tweeting and retweeting scores all week. Hockey Canada also has a Live Ice app for Android and Apple, if you want to focus only on Team Canada games.
The official tournament website is http://www.worldwomen2016.com/ Rosters, schedules, rules, profiles, the whole shebang is there As well, the IIHF has an app! It's available for Apple, Android and Windows mobile devices. You can get notifications on games, goals, even penalties, for all IIHF tournaments this year (even the men, should you care about men's hockey for some reason)
- Katya's wrap-up of the Challenge Cup of Asia includes a guide through the IIHF dvision levels
- Women's World Cup of Hockey: 25 years of empowerment and counting
- A preview from the IIHF
- Background on the Swiss team and Olympic qualifying
- An interview with Team Sweden's coach
- Saturday's Canada-Sweden friendly
- The IIHF newsletter