There will be a new feel to the IIHF World Championship in 2012 as the hockey federation decided to change the format Friday.
The new-look tournament will see the preliminary round move from four groups of four to two groups of eight, so each nation will have seven preliminary round games.
From there, the top four in each group will move to quarterfinal play, while the last-placed teams in each group will be relegated. Teams placed 5-7 will be finished for the tournament. The quarterfinals will be played within the groups as opposed to a cross-over system that is currently employed.
The current format, which has been in effect since 2000, has four preliminary round groups with the top 12 moving on to qualifying round play.
The new format will increase the number of games at the annual event from 56 to 64. Because of this, teams are now allowed to register rosters of 25 players, up from 23.
“This is a good change and everyone is happy,” IIHF President Rene Fasel said in a release. “The qualifying round has been a tough sell as you may have the last games of the preliminary round being played on a Wednesday, and it is not until very late that day that the fans get to know which teams will be opening the qualifying round on Thursday.”
The new format will take effect at the 2012 event in Finland. The old format will still be used for the 2011 event in Slovakia.