When the puck drops at the 2021 World Para Ice Hockey Championships on Saturday (19 June) in Ostrava, Czech Republic, it will mark the return to the venue of one of the most remarkable competitions in the history of sport. It will also be the first time a World Para Ice Hockey sanctioned event has taken place since before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Ostrava 2021 World Championships will run from 19-26 June, with the top eight-ranked teams competing for a world title and five Paralympic qualification spots for the Beijing 2022 Games. Hosts Czech Republic face South Korea on the opening game at 12:00 (CEST).
All games will be streamed live on World Para Ice Hockey’s website and Facebook page with geo-block restrictions in Canada, Czech Republic, Slovakia and USA.
The tournament will consist of three days of preliminary pool play followed by two days of playoff matchups and then the medal round.
Top four-seeded in Group A
The top four-seeded teams (USA, Canada, South Korea and Czech Republic) will make up Group A in the preliminary round, with the next four teams (Norway, Italy, RPC and Slovakia) making up Group B.
The top two finishers from Group A will automatically advance to the semifinal round, with the bottom two finishers challenging the top two finishers from Group B for the other two spots.
The USA will enter the tournament as the defending Paralympic and world champions, led by the power duo of forwards Declan Farmer and Brody Roybal and goaltender Steve Cash. Their archrivals, Canada, will be anchored by veterans Tyler McGregor and Liam Hickey, who are in search of regaining the top spot on the podium after taking silver at both the last Paralympics and World Championships.
The two teams meet on opening day at 15:00 (CEST).
South Korea will be looking at a third consecutive podium finish on the world stage, while host nation Czech Republic, led by the Most Valuable Player at the last edition of the event in Michal Geier, is aiming to capture its first-ever medal in the tournament’s history.
Norway and Italy are both eager to finish in the top five to earn their qualification spots in Beijing next year, while RPC and Slovakia, which finished in the top two spots at last year’s B-Pool World Championships in Berlin, complete the line-up. It will mark Slovakia’s first appearance at the A-Pool level.
Italy take on RPC at 17:30 (CEST) followed by Slovakia-Norway at 20:30 (CEST) on Saturday.
Third time in Ostrava
Ostravar Arena will host the event for the second consecutive time and third time overall after staging the most successful tournament to date in 2019, drawing unprecedented media and broadcast coverage around the world. The city also held the World Championships in 2009.
In Ostrava, the top five finishers will automatically qualify for the Beijing 2022 Winter Paralympics; the last three finishers will take part in a qualification tournament to be held at a later date to try to earn their spots in Beijing.
Each day of the event, 2,500 spectators will be allowed in the venue and will adhere to strict health and safety protocols. The event was postponed from early May in order to allow for World Para Ice Hockey and the Local Organising Committee to have more time to implement comprehensive health and safety protocols due to the pandemic.
“We are thrilled to drop the puck on Saturday in Ostrava and begin a week of fast-paced action on the ice in the lead-up to the Beijing 2022 Paralympics,” said Michelle LaFlamme, World Para Ice Hockey Manager.
“When you bring together the top eight Para ice hockey teams in the world, you are guaranteed to witness the best our sport has to offer, and we are excited for the world to tune-into these championships,” LaFlamme added.
More information about the teams, complete schedule and results can be found on the Ostrava 2021 microsite.