International Ice Hockey Federation

Another international break

Another international break

National teams tune up before Worlds

Published 30.01.2015 15:17 GMT+1 | Author Karolina Antosova
Another international break
World Championship host Czech Republic and defending champion Russia will face off in two exhibition games in February. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship is fast approaching, so the upcoming international break is another chance for coaches to test their European players.

One look at the roster of Czech national team indicates that the 2015 IIHF World Ice Hockey Championship is fast approaching. In the Karjala Cup and Channel One Cup, the first two stops on the Euro Hockey Tour, the Czechs weren’t able to win a single game. As a result, this time coach Vladimir Ruzicka has selected players with more experience than in the previous tournaments. And their goal for the two upcoming games against Russia is more than obvious – they want to get their first win (and maybe the second too) of the season in front of their home fans.

And against the young Russian team without its biggest stars, the Czechs have a great opportunity to achieve this goal. The average age of Russians is only 22.9 years, as opposed to a Czech team with an average age of 28.6 – the oldest in the Euro Hockey Tour. But their youthfulness does not mean this team coached by Oleg Znarok will be easy to beat. They do have some big-stage international experience, with several players who won silver medals at the World Juniors in Canada this year.

As Czechs and Russians play two games in Karlovy Vary and Prague, so too will the Swedes and Finns clash twice in Vasteras and Stockholm, Sweden. As it always is, the Nordic derby is sure to be intense. Despite the fact that the KHL isn’t stopping during this international break, both teams have some notable names on their rosters. Swedish coach Pat Marts will have at his disposal veterans Jimmie Ericsson, Staffan Kronwall and Martin Thornberg. Meanwhile, the Finnish roster boasts the likes of Petri Kontiola, in his first appearance in a Finland sweater since returning from the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, and Sochi bronze medallist Juhamatti Aaltonen.

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In addition to Europe's big four, many other national teams will take to the ice in early February. In Banska Bystrica, Slovakia, the Slovaks will host Switzerland and Germany in the Slovakia Cup.

The Slovak team features some experienced players who are expected to play at the World Championship in May, as well as some young guns. Perhaps the most notable name is Martin Reway, captain of the bronze-winning Slovak team at the World Juniors.

Swiss coach Glen Hanlon has selected a team comprised almost entirely of players from the Swiss domestic league. The only exceptions are Juraj Simek and Dean Kukan, who play in Finland and Sweden, respectively.


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