By Martin Merk – IIHF.com
The 12-team tournament will be played according to the same format like in Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014 with three groups consisting of four teams each with the top-four teams of the overall ranking (including the group winners) earning an entry to the quarter-finals while the remaining eight teams will have to play a qualification playoff game to move to the quarter-finals.
The seeding was already done one year ago based on the 2015 IIHF Men’s World Ranking with the top-8 countries and host Korea already set but now the three qualifiers are known and included.
Norway was the only host country that won its Final Olympic Qualification group thanks to a late game-winner from Mattias Norstebo in the 2-1 victory over France.
Germany ended the Latvian streak of three consecutive tournament wins in the Final Olympic Qualification on home ice (for 2006, 2010 and 2014) by beating the Latvians in Riga 3-2 thanks to Tom Kuhnhackl’s late power-play goal.
Both teams will be seeded in the same group with Sweden and Finland in PyeongChang.
The bumblebee continues to fly. Like for Sochi 2014, when Slovenia surprisingly qualified against Belarus and Denmark and even reached the quarter-finals at the Olympics, the Slovenes won against the exactly same opponents this week. On Sunday Slovenia beat tournament host Belarus 3-2 in shootout in the deciding game in Minsk. The Slovenes will be seeded with Russia, the United States and Slovakia in Group B in PyeongChang.
Group A includes defending Olympic champion Canada, the Czech Republic, Switzerland and host Korea.
2018 Olympic men’s ice hockey tournament
Group A: Canada (1), Czech Republic (6), Switzerland (7), Korea (12)
Group B: Russia (2), USA (5), Slovakia (8), Slovenia (11)
Group C: Sweden (3), Finland (4), Norway (9), Germany (10)
The qualification for the 2018 Olympic women’s ice hockey tournament will be played during the 2016/2017 hockey season. The top-five nations – USA, Canada, Finland, Russia and Sweden – and host Korea are already qualified while two qualifiers will be known by February.