Some of you might be asking what the IIHF Men’s World Championship is. It's an annual international tournament put on by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). It was first held at the 1920 Summer Olympics and is now hockey’s highest profile annual international tournament outside of the Winter Olympics.
Each summer it is held in a different location, with this year’s tournament split between Cologne, Germany and Paris, France. It is often seen as a chance for NHL players to continue their development or prove their abilities if their team was eliminated early from the NHL postseason. Team Canada and Team USA are almost entirely made up of current NHLers.
The tournament works in a two-pool format with seeding, which is based on the conclusion of the 2016 IIHF MWC tournament. This year’s groups are as follows:
Group A (Cologne)
- Russia (2 overall rank)
- United States (4 overall rank)
- Sweden (5 overall rank)
- Slovakia (8 overall rank)
- Germany (10 overall rank)
- Latvia (12 overall rank)
- Denmark (13 overall rank)
- Italy (16 overall rank)
Group B (Paris)
- Canada (1 overall rank)
- Finland (3 overall rank)
- Czech Republic (6 overall rank)
- Switzerland (7 overall rank)
- Belarus (9 overall rank)
- Norway (11 overall rank)
- France (14 overall rank)
- Slovenia (15 overall rank)
How does the bracket work?
At the end of regular play, the top four teams in each pool will go on to the quarterfinals. Their crossover play will occur with seed one playing seed eight, seed two playing seed seven and so on. Then onto the semi-finals, and finally the gold medal round.
Who to watch from the Coyotes?
Due to Arizona’s season almost always coming to a close in April, the Coyotes normally have a pretty heavy representation in the international tournament. Here’s who to watch this year:
Team USA (Dvorak, Keller, Murphy)
This year, the Coyotes have three players on the US roster. The first is rookie Christian Dvorak, who is relatively new to the USA international scene. The first time that he represented team USA was at the U20 World Junior Championship in 2016. Dvorak notched 3 goals and 5 assists for 8 points in 7 games as Team USA went on to beat Sweden and take home the bronze medal. This will be his first time at the IIHF Men’s World Championship. For now, he is centering a line with Coyotes teammate Clayton Keller and Chicago Blackhawks winger Nick Schmaltz at the 2017 IIHF MWC.
Next up is Clayton Keller, who made his NHL debut late in the season. Keller is no stranger to the International scene. Dating back to 2014-15, Keller has represented the US on many levels. He played on the USNTDP in the USHL for two years, scoring 74 points in 55 games (27 goals and 47 assists). In 2014-15 he played for the U.S. National U17 and U18 teams (in the USDP), scoring 59 points and 23 points respectively - the record-holder in points in the league’s history. That same year he also played in the U17 World Hockey Challenge, capturing a silver medal and finishing as top scorer. In addition, he played in the U18 World Championship, winning gold. The following year he would win bronze and be named MVP of the tournament. At the 2017 WJC, Keller led team USA in scoring, with 11 points (3 goals and 8 assists) in 7 games and was named to the tournament’s All-Star team. This team took home gold for the USA for the first time since 2013. As stated above, Keller is currently playing this IIHF tournament on the wing of Coyotes teammate Dvorak with Schmaltz on the other.
Finally, we get to Connor Murphy. The 24-year-old defenseman has the richest international play background, as he has played the most IIHF MWC tournament games of any player on the team at 38. This summer he has been rewarded for his loyalty and quality play by being named the captain of Team USA. During his previous three years at the tournament, Murphy had 5 points 3 goals and 2 assists, all notched last summer when he wore an “A” for the team. At the 2015 IIHF WMC, he was named a top 3 player of the team alongside Auston Matthews and scored the most goals by a defenseman. In 2014 he helped Team USA to a bronze medal. He won gold with Team USA in both 2011 with the U18 WJC team (where he scored the overtime, game-winning goal against Sweden) and the U20 WJC team in 2013 (the last US team to do so before 2017). Murphy has also represented the US dating back to 2009-10 when he played on the USNTDP team in the USHL. Murphy is currently on the top defensive line with Detroit Red Wing Danny DeKeyser for the 2017 IIHF MWC.
Team USA won their only pre-tournament exhibition game against 16th seed Italy 5-2, where all three Coyotes notched an assist in the tournament debut.
Team USA’s first regulation game will be against Team Germany on May 5th at 2:15 pm EST. Their full schedule and TV and streaming times are available here.
Team Germany (Rieder)
Tobias Rieder has represented Team Germany on the national stage for years, dating all the way back to 2008-09. Overall in international play, Rieder has garnered 62 points (30 goals and 32 assists) over 96 games. Most recently, Rieder participated in the 2016 IIHF MWC but was ultimately sidelined with an injury after colliding with Team Canada’s Corey Perry. After that, he went on to help Team Germany qualify for Olympic participation in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. He also played on the first ever Team Europe at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, coming in second place to Team Canada. Currently, Rieder is playing with on a line with Dominik Kahun and Brooks Macek for the 2017 IIHF MWC.
Team Germany won their only pre-tournament exhibition game against 12th seed Latvia 3-2.
Team Germany’s first regulation game will be against Team USA on May 5th at 2:15 pm EST.
Team Sweden (Ekman-Larsson)
Last but not least, the Coyotes have star blueliner Oliver Ekman-Larsson playing for team Sweden. Aside from Keller, Ekman-Larsson is the strongest and most consistent international player. Representing Team Sweden any chance he gets, Ekman-Larsson has 104 international points (33 goals and 71 assists) in 155 games. While his international play dates back to 2006-07, most recently he played in the 2015 IIHF MWC, where he scored 2 goals and 10 assists. He also represented Team Sweden in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey this past season. Currently, Ekman-Larsson is playing with Dallas Stars’ John Klingberg at the 2017 IIHF MWC.
Team Sweden lost their only pre-tournament exhibition game against 3rd seeded Team Finland 3-2.
Team Sweden’s first regulation game will be against team Russia on May 5th at 10:15 am EST