2022 Guide to the Men’s Olympic Tournament

It has been a rough few months for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) with the postponement of various tournaments, including the U20 World Junior Championship, four days after it began. Hockey fans worldwide were looking forward to the 2022 Winter Olympics to see the best players in the game face off against each other. The IIHF got another dose of bad news on Dec. 22 when the NHL decided to withdraw from the Olympic games.

“The National Hockey League respects and admires the desire of NHL players to represent their countries and participate in a ‘best on best’ tournament,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “Accordingly, we have waited as long as possible to make this decision while exploring every available option to enable our players to participate in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

“We certainly acknowledge and appreciate the efforts made by the International Olympic Committee, the International Ice Hockey Federation, and the Beijing Organizing Committee to host NHL players, but current circumstances have made it impossible for us to proceed despite everyone’s best efforts. We look forward to Olympic participation in 2026.”

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman
Another Olympics without the NHL. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)

While losing the NHL’s star power for the second straight Olympic games, it doesn’t mean this year’s tournament will lack storylines. There will be a great mixture of familiar faces and future stars heading to Beijing, China. For instance, former Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens head coach Claude Julien will lead Team Canada. Czechia’s roster includes two former Stanley Cup winners in David Krejci and Michael Frolik.

This year’s tournament features 12 countries split into three groups of four, with group play set to begin on Feb. 9.

Team CanadaPreviewRoster
Team USAPreviewRoster
Team ChinaPreviewRoster
Team CzechiaPreviewRoster
Team DenmarkPreviewRoster
Team FinlandPreviewRoster
Team GermanyPreviewRoster
Team LatviaPreviewRoster
Team RussiaPreviewRoster
Team SlovakiaPreviewRoster
Team SwedenPreviewRoster
Team SwitzerlandPreviewRoster

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China Welcomes in the Winter Games

The game of ice hockey has been growing in China over the years with the help of the NHL. The Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks played a pair of preseason games in Shanghai and Beijing in 2017. The following year, the Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames made the trip for contests in Beijing and Shenzhen.

2022 Olympics Beijing 2022 China
China’s men’s team will play in its first Olympics. (The Hockey Writers)

China has been a member of the IIHF since 1963. The sport has been popular in the northern part of the country for decades. In participation in the 2022 games, more rinks have opened nationwide. Losing the NHL players is a big blow, but the interest in the sport is still at an all-time high.

China’s women’s team has qualified twice for the Olympics in 1998 and 2010. Both the men’s and women’s teams will compete in this year’s tournament. This will be the first appearance for the men’s team.

Participating Teams

In addition to China, 11 other teams will take to the ice, searching for a gold medal. The host country will be on Group A with Canada, Germany, and the United States. Group B features Russia (ROC), Czechia, Denmark, and Switzerland. Finland, Latvia, Slovakia, and Sweden will duke it out in Group C. All 12 teams will qualify for the elimination round, with the top four earning a bye into the quarterfinals.

Russia enters as the reigning gold medal winners, beating the upstart German team 4-3 in overtime of the championship game. Canada beat Czechia in the bronze medal game four years ago. Nikita Gusev of Russia led all players at the 2018 Winter Olympics with eight assists and 12 points. His teammates, Ilya Kovalchuk and Minnesota Wild star Kirill Kaprizov, tied with Ryan Donato of the United States for the most goals in the tournament with five. Former Anaheim Ducks netminder Jonas Hiller led the way with a 1.14 goals-against average (GAA) and .956 save percentage (SV%) for Switzerland.

Ilya Kovalchuk
Kovalchuk led Russia to gold in 2018. (s.yume via Wikimedia Commons)

Kovalchuk was named the 2018 Most Valuable Player for his five goals and seven points. Danny aus den Birken (GER) was named the Best Goaltender, Vyacheslav Voynov took home Best Defenseman honors, and Gusev was given the Best Forward award.

2022 Men’s Olympic Hockey Schedule

Wednesday, Feb. 9

Russia 1, Switzerland 0
Denmark 2, Czechia 1
Sweden 3, Latvia 2

Thursday, Feb. 10

Finland 6, Slovakia 2
United States 8, China 0
Canada 5, Germany 1
Russia 2, Denmark 0

Friday, Feb. 11

Czechia 2, Switzerland 1
Sweden 4, Slovakia 1
Finland 3, Latvia 1
United States 4, Canada 2

Saturday, Feb. 12

Germany 3, China 2
Czechia 5, Russia 5
Denmark 5, Switzerland 3
Slovakia 5, Latvia 2

Sunday, Feb. 13

Finland 4, Sweden 3 (OT)
Canada 5, China 0
United States 3, Germany 2

Monday, Feb. 14

Qualifying Playoff Game 1 – Slovakia 4, Germany 0
Qualifying Playoff Game 2 – Denmark 3, Latvia 2

Tuesday, Feb. 15

Qualifying Playoff Game 3 – Switzerland 4, Czechia 2
Qualifying Playoff Game 4 – Canada7, China 2
Quarterfinals Game 1 – Slovakia 3, United States 2 (SO)

Wednesday, Feb. 16

Quarterfinals Game 2 – Russia 3, Denmark 1
Quarterfinals Game 3 – Finland 5, Switzerland 1
Quarterfinals Game 4 – Sweden 2, Canada 0

Thursday, Feb. 17

Semifinals Game 1 – Finland vs Slovakia, 11:10 PM EST

Friday, Feb. 18

Semifinals Game 2 – Russia vs Sweden, 8:10 AM EST

Saturday, Feb. 19

Bronze Medal Game – 8:10 AM EST
Gold Medal Game – 11:10 PM EST