The top division of the 2015 IIHF Women’s World Championships begins play tomorrow, March 28, in Malmo, Sweden. The tournament will conclude with bronze and gold medal games a week after, on April 4. If you’re looking for some quick info to fill you in on the World Championships and how it works, we’ve got you covered.
The tournament uses a tiered system, with eight teams divided into two groups. The top four teams will compete in Group A, while the next four teams make up Group B. All four teams in Group A automatically advance following the preliminary around. The top two teams will receive byes to the semifinal round. The third-seeded team in Group A will meet the second-seeded team in Group B, and the fourth-seeded team in Group A will meet the first-seeded team in Group B.
The bottom two teams in Group B will play a best-of-three series following the preliminary round to decide relegation. The winner of the series will remain in the top division for the 2016 Women’s World Championships. The losing team will be relegated to Division I A in 2016. The winner of the 2015 Division I A Women’s World Championships will then move up to the top division in 2016 instead.
In the preliminary round, a three-point system will be employed. If a game is decided in regulation, the winning team will receive three points in the standings and the loser will receive no points. If a game goes into overtime or, after, to a shootout, each team will receive one point after regulation, and the winner will receive another point for a total of two.
Each team faces the three other teams in its group once in the preliminary round. After these three games, the seedings for the playoff round will be decided.
If two teams are tied in points after the preliminary round, the result of the game played between them will be the tie-breaker, so the winning team would be ranked ahead. Tie-breaking gets a little tedious if more than two teams are tied in points, so if you want the full details of the tie-breaking procedure, the IIHF has provided them here.
As far as overtime goes in the preliminary round, a five-minute overtime will be played if the teams are tied after regulation. The team who scores first wins; if nobody scores, then the game will be decided in a shootout, or what the IIHF calls “Game Winning Shots”. The shootout will be best-of-three rounds, and three different skaters must be used by each team. If the shootout is tied after three rounds, then it continue one round at a time until one team scores and the other doesn’t. After the first three rounds, teams can re-use skaters who have already taken a shot.
For games following the preliminary round except for the gold medal game, a 10-minute overtime period will be played if regulation ends in a tie, and a three-minute intermission will be taken before overtime begins. Sudden-death rules still apply, and if the game is still tied after overtime, then a shootout will be played to decide the winner.
In the gold medal game, if regulation ends in a tie, there will be a full 15-minute intermission and a full 20-minute overtime will follow. Again, sudden-death rules apply, and if it’s still tied after 20 minutes of overtime, then the winner will be decided by a shootout.
For any other questions about the format of the tournament or the games themselves, please take a look at the IIHF’s very helpful and detailed tournament format resource.
World Ranking: 1st
Players to Watch: G Emerance Maschmeyer, D Laura Fortino, D Halli Krzyzaniak, F Brianne Jenner, F Rebecca Johnston, F Marie-Philip Poulin, F Jamie Lee Rattray, F Jillian Saulnier, F Natalie Spooner
World Ranking: 2nd
Players to Watch: G Alex Rigsby, D Monique Lamoureux, D Michelle Picard, F Stephanie Anderson, F Hannah Brandt, F Alex Carpenter, F Brianna Decker, F Hilary Knight, F Jocelyne Lamoureux
World Ranking: 6th
Players to Watch: D Anna Shukina, F Yekaterina Smolina, F Alexandra Vafina, F Iya Gavrilova
World Ranking: 5th
Players to Watch: G Meeri Raisanen, G Eveliina Suonpaa, D Jenni Hiirikoski, D Anna Kilponen, F Michelle Karvinen, F Emma Nuutinen, F Karoliina Rantamaki, F Saila Saari, F Susanna Tapani, F Noora Tulus
World Ranking: 7th
Players to Watch: G Jennifer Harss, D Tanja Eisenschmid, F Nicola Eisenschmid, F Kerstin Spielberger, F Julia Zorn
World Ranking: 3rd
Players to Watch: G Florence Schelling, D Laura Benz, D Julia Marty, F Stefanie Marty, F Alina Muller, F Phoebe Staenz, F Lara Stalder
World Ranking: 4th
Players to Watch: G Sara Grahn, G Valentina Wallner, D Emilia Andersson, D Lina Backlin, D Johanna Fallman, F Jenni Asserholt, F Anna Borgqvist, F Emma Nordin, F Hanna Olsson, F Erica Uden Johansson, F Pernilla Winberg
World Ranking: 8th
Players to Watch*: G Nana Fujimoto
*Sadly, viewings of Team Japan and its players have been very, very limited up to this point.
Saturday, March 28
Sweden vs. Japan, 7 a.m. EST
Germany vs. Switzerland, 9 a.m. EST
United States vs. Canada, 11 a.m. EST
Finland vs. Russia, 3 p.m. EST
Sunday, March 29
Switzerland vs. Sweden, 7 a.m. EST
Japan vs. Germany, 9 a.m. EST
Canada vs. Russia, 11 a.m. EST
United States vs. Finland, 3 p.m. EST
Tuesday, March 31
Russia vs. United States, 7 a.m. EST
Switzerland vs. Japan, 9 a.m. EST
Canada vs. Finland, 11 a.m. EST
Sweden vs. Germany, 3 p.m. EST
Wednesday, April 1
Quarterfinal #1, 11 a.m. EST
Quarterfinal #2, 3 p.m. EST
Relegation #1, 1 p.m. EST
Friday, April 3
Semifinal #1, 7 a.m. EST
Semifinal #2, 11 a.m. EST
Relegation #2, 9 a.m. EST
Saturday, April 4
Bronze Medal Game, 7 a.m. EST
Gold Medal Game, 11 a.m. EST
Relegation #3 (if necessary), 9 a.m. EST
How Can I Watch?
If you live in Canada, you can catch the action all throughout the tournament on TSN. If you’re in the United States, you’re a bit out of luck; USA Hockey said earlier this week that there will be no live stream of the games available. From what we’ve heard, TV is a possibility, but not until the medal round at the earliest.
For live updates of each game, @IIHFScores is a good follow on Twitter.