Hockey fans can start making plans for September 2016 as the NHL announced the groups and the schedule for the World Cup at a press conference Wednesday.
When the two-week tournament kicks off in next September, eight teams, including an under-23 North American team and international squad comprised of the best players whose nations are not competing in the tournament, will make up two groups vying for World Cup glory. In Group ‘A’, Canada will be joined by USA, the Czech Republic and Team Europe. Group ‘B’ will be comprised of Finland, Sweden, Russia and the Under-23 squad.
The tournament’s preliminary round robin will last five days with all games being played at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre.
The big match day comes on Sept. 20 when international rivalries will be rekindled. In the day’s matinee game, Finland will take on Sweden, with Canada and USA facing off in primetime.
Once the preliminary round has concluded on Sept. 22, the top four teams, two from each group, will be seeded to create a playoff bracket. The top team from Group ‘A’ will take on the second place team from Group ‘B’, with the reverse — B1 vs. A2 — making up the other side of the playoff bracket. The first round of the playoff will be a single-elimination game which could make for a number of potential upsets in the tournament. The semi-final games will take place on Sept. 24 and 25.
After a two day break, the winners of the single-elimination semi-final will then head to a best-of-three World Cup final which will take place over the span of six days. The opening game of the World Cup final will take place on Sept. 27, with Game 2 and a potential winnier-takes-all Game 3 scheduled for Sept. 29 and Oct. 1, respectively.
All tournament games will be broadcast on Sportsnet and TVA in Canada, while ESPN has secured the broadcast rights in the United States.