Ice Hockey World Championships

BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA - MAY10: Norway’s Andreas Martinsen #27 plays the puck while Russia’s Dinar Khafizullin #3 defends during preliminary round action at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship at Ondrej Nepela Arena on May 10, 2019 in Bratislava, Slovakia. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/HHOF-IIHF Images)

The Ice Hockey World Championships (IHWC) is an annual ice hockey event hosted across the world. This event is governed by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) with the first tournament being held during the summer Olympics in 1920. Throughout 1920 to 1968, the World Championships took place at Olympic events.

In 1930, twelve nations participated in the first individually organized hockey tournament hosted in Chamonix, France, Vienna, Austria, and Berlin, Germany. The event was set up as a round-robin with Canada becoming the champions.


The recent IHWC has been split into divisions where Divisions I and II having 12 teams each. Division III is created when there are more than 40 teams competing. There is a preliminary round involving the top eight teams from each division.

Between 1930 and 1952, Canada dominated the IHWC. In 1954, Russia joined the competition and became fast rivals with the Canadians. From 1963 to 1991 when the Soviet Union dissolved, Russia then dominated the tournament winning 20 championships.

The rules of the games at the World Championships differ slightly from the rules of the NHL. For example, when there is a tie the IHWC uses only a single round of overtime, then uses shoot-outs to determine the winner.

The 2020 Ice Hockey World Championships was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic. It will be the first time since 1988 that the event will not take place.

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