Darren Barefoot is Malta-bound for a sojourn and whilst in Dublin pontifying to the people, he came across some hockey coverage of the World Championships, Div. 3 tournament. These are the (no offense to these stalwart players) bottom feeders of the hockey world and each year, two teams bump up a class and two from Div 2 bump to Div 1 where the thoroughbreads play.
The World Championships gets little attention in Canada since the Stanley Cup Tournament happens concurrently – but in European hockey, it is the big deal (along with the Olympics each 4 years). This year, the final tourney with the top 16 teams is hosted in Moscow (IIHF WC Schedule) and defending champ Sweden will have its hands full with many strong countries including Canada who cobbles together a solid-ish team of players from non-playoff (and first-round exiting) teams and usually do well if not dominanting like usual. Look for World Junior wunderkind Jonathan Toews to have an electricfying tourney.
This year’s victories mean Solvenia and France are bumped up to Div 1 for the 2008 tourney while China and Romania are dropped down to Div 2.
Division 2 tourney was divided into two groups. Group A was won by Croatia who will jump up to Div 1 next go around and alas, Turkey was the bottom place and will join Div. 3 (BTW, Belgium , Spain, Serbia and Bulgaria rounded out the group).
The Division 2, Group B tournament (with Australia, Israel, DPR (North) Korea, Iceland, South Korea and Mexico) was won by host Korea who will jump to Division 1 next time around while the North Koreans withdrew from the tourney and will take Ireland’s place in Div. 3 for their non-trouble.
Anyway, Ireland managed a shootout win over Luxembourg to advance – along with New Zealand – to be the sacrificial lamb in the next tier which brings us to Barefoot’s tale:
I turned on the TV in our Dublin hotel, and surfed to a new (to me, at least) channel called Setanta Sports (man, that URL ought to be a lot shorter). Low and behold, there was ice hockey on TV. And it was those embattled giants of the frozen game, Ireland vs. Luxembourg.
By Canadian standards, it was amateur hour all around, from the on-ice play to the commentary to the charming scale of the Dundalk Ice Dome. Still, I was pleased to see that Ireland will be promoted from Division Three to Division Two after a shootout victory. The other teams in the tournament: New Zealand (who took home the gold), South Africa, Mongolia (they got their Yak-riding asses handed to them by everybody) and Luxembourg. Awesome: