Olympic Sports >> Ice Hockey

Ice Hockey

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The Competition

Objective

Teams field six players at a time on an ice rink 60m x 30m from a squad of 23 (men) or 20 (women) and try to put the puck in the opposing goal as many times as possible. The game is played over sixty-minutes, divided up into three 20-minute periods. Overtime may be played in case of a stalemate.

Two tournaments

1 for men and 1 for women

Venue

Canada Hockey Place, UBC Thunderbird Arena

Competition dates

February 13 to February 28

The Tournament

Men

The teams will compete in a 30-game schedule, including 18 preliminary-round games, four qualification playoff games, four quarterfinal games, two semifinal games, bronze-medal game and gold-medal game. The 12 teams are divided into three groups of four, and each team will play the other three teams in its group in the preliminary round. After the preliminary round, the 12 teams will be ranked and the top four will advance to the quarterfinals. The bottom eight teams will each play one qualification playoff game, with the winners advancing to the quarterfinals.

Preliminary-round pool groups (number rankings based on IIHF world rankings after 2008 World Championships or other qualifying tournaments):
• Group A: 1. Canada; 6. United States; 7. Switzerland; 12. Norway.
• Group B: 2. Russia; 5. Czech Republic; 8. Slovakia; 11. Latvia.
• Group C: 3. Sweden; 4. Finland; 9. Belarus; 10. Germany.

Overtime rules: If a game is tied at the end of regulation, a 4-on-4, sudden-death overtime period will be played (five-minute OT in preliminary round, 10-minute OT in playoff round and 20-minute OT in gold-medal game). If the game is not decided in overtime, it will go to a shootout.

In the preliminary round, the IIHF three-point rule will be followed:
• 3 points for the winning team at the conclusion of regulation time.
• 1 point for both teams at the conclusion of regulation time if the game is tied,
• An additional point earned for the team winning the game in a 5-minute overtime period, or the game-winning shots procedure if the teams are still tied following conclusion of overtime.
• 0 points for the team losing the game in regulation time.

How the rankings will be determined after the preliminary round (1D - 12D):

• Higher position in the group.
• Higher number of points.
• Better goal differential.
• Higher number of goals scored.
• Better 2009 IIHF world ranking.

The top four teams will receive a bye for the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, in the qualification round, the four winning teams will advance to the quarters. The losing teams will be ranked 9-12. Here is the format for the qualification games:
• 5D vs. 12D (Winner becomes E1)
• 6D vs. 11D (Winner becomes E2)
• 7D vs. 10D (Winner becomes E3)
• 8D vs. 9D (Winner becomes E4)

Here is the format for the quarterfinals:
• 1D vs. E4 (Winner becomes F1)
• 2D vs. E3 (Winner becomes F2)
• 3D vs. E2 (Winner becomes F3)
• 4D vs. E1 (Winner becomes F4)

If three or more teams are tied on points, the IIHF tie-breaking formula will be applied. This process will continue until only two teams remain tied. The game between the two remaining tied teams would be the determining tiebreaker.

Women

The eight teams that qualified for the tournament have been divided into two groups:
• Group A: Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia.
• Group B: United States, Finland, Russia, China.

Each team will play the other three teams in its group in the preliminary round. In the preliminary round, the IIHF three-point rule will be followed:
• 3 points for the winning team at the conclusion of regulation time.
• 1 point for both teams at the conclusion of regulation time if the game is tied,
• An additional point earned for the team winning the game in a 5-minute overtime period, or the game-winning shots procedure if the teams are still tied following conclusion of overtime.
• 0 points for the team losing the game in regulation time.

Overtime rules: If a game is tied at the end of regulation, a 4-on-4, sudden-death overtime period will be played (five-minute OT in preliminary round, 10-minute OT in playoff round and 20-minute OT in gold-medal game). If the game is not decided in overtime, it will go to a shootout.

The top two teams from each group qualify for the semifinals. The bottom two teams face off in a playoff round, competing for 5th-8th place. The winners of the two semifinal games play for the gold medal; the losers play for the bronze.

If three or more teams are tied on points, the IIHF tie-breaking formula will be applied. This process will continue until only two teams remain tied. The game between the two remaining tied teams would be the determining tiebreaker.

Important Dates

  • 1500s : A form of hockey is played on frozen fields in England.
  • 1800s : Hockey is played for the first time in Nova Scotia, Canada.
  • 1893 : Montreal AAA win a cup awarded by Lord Stanley: the Stanley Cup.
  • 1903 : The first professionals take part in the Pro Hockey league created in Michigan.
  • 1908 : International Ice Hockey League (LIHG) is founded in Paris
  • 1917 : The National Hockey League (NHL) is founded in North America.
  • 1920 : Ice Hockey competition held at Summer Games in Antwerp before becoming a winter event at the 1924 Games in Chamonix.
  • 1930 : First world championships.
  • 1954 : The LIHG becomes the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF).
  • 1998 : Women's tournament features at the Olympics for the first time in Nagano and is won by the United States.

Stars

Vladislav Tretiak (USSR)

Arguably the greatest goaltender of all time, Vladislav Tretiak of the Soviet Union helped the Soviet Union to three Olympic gold medals (1972, 1976, 1984) and ten world championships. A celebrated member of the Red Army Club in Moscow, he became the first non-NHL player to enter the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989.

Wayne Gretzky (CAN)

Suitably nicknamed "The Greatest", Canada's Wayne Gretzky helped the Edmonton Oilers to four Stanley Cups during the 1980's and the national team to 3 Canada Cups. Holds the record for most NHL goals with 894. and during the 1981-82 season, scored 92 goals in just 80 games. Never won an Olympic or world championship gold medal.

Mario Lemieux (CAN)

"The Magnificent One", came out of a three-year retirement after battling serious illness to play for the Pittsburgh Penguins during the 2000/2001 season. Six-times leading scorer in the NHL and mastermind behind the Penguins' back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992. Helped Canada to hockey gold at the Salt Lake Games in 2002.

Copyright 2008 Agence France-Presse.