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Olympic Hockey Tournament Playing Format

The following is the format and procedures governing the men's ice hockey tournament at the 2010 Winter Olympics, as outlined by the International Ice Hockey Federation.

For a complete rules comparsion between NHL and Olympic games, please click here.
  1. The top nine ranked national associations according to the 2008 IIHF World Ranking, determined at the conclusion of the 2008 IIHF World Championship, will be seeded in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games Men's Tournament according to their 2008 IIHF World Ranking number.

  2. The three winning teams of the Final Olympic Qualification Tournaments will be seeded into the 2010 Olympic Winter Games Men's Tournament following their 2008 IIHF World Ranking number.

  3. The 12 teams will be seeded into three groups of four teams each in a normal seeding pattern following the IIHF Sport Regulations:

    2010 Olympic Pools
    (Click countries for roster)
    Group A

    Canada

    United States

    Switzerland

    Norway
    Group B

    Russia

    Czech Republic

    Slovakia

    Latvia
    Group C

    Sweden

    Finland

    Germany

    Belarus

  4. The teams will compete in the 30 game schedule including 18 Preliminary Round Games, 4 Qualification Playoff Games, 4 Quarter Final Games, 2 Semi-Final Games, one Bronze Medal Game and one Gold Medal Game. (Click for full schedule)

  5. At the conclusion of the 18 game Preliminary Round all 12 teams will be ranked according to a special criterion. This ranking will be used for seeding the teams in the Qualification Playoff games and will used for calculating the Final Ranking at the conclusion of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games Men's Tournament.

  6. The following criteria will be used in the order presented to determine this ranking following completion of the Preliminary Round (1D - 12D):
    • Higher position in the group
    • Higher number of points
    • Better goal difference
    • Higher number of goals scored for
    • Better 2009 IIHF World Ranking

  7. After the Preliminary Round, 1D, 2D, 3D and 4D will receive a bye into the Quarter Finals and will be named as the Home Team for their Quarter Final pairing.

  8. The Qualification Playoff games will be played with the following match-ups (Group E):
    • 5D - 12D (Winner will become E1)
    • 6D - 11D (Winner will become E2)
    • 7D - 10D (Winner will become E3)
    • 8D - 9D (Winner will become E4)

  9. The four winning teams of the Qualification Playoff games will advance to the Quarter Final Round. The four losing teams of the Qualification Playoff games will be ranked 9 through 12 according to their ranking after the Preliminary Round.

  10. The Quarter Final Games will be played with the following match-ups (Group F):
    • 1D - E4 (Winner will become F1)
    • 2D - E3 (Winner will become F2)
    • 3D - E2 (Winner will become F3)
    • 4D - E1 (Winner will become F4)

  11. The four winning teams of the Quarter Final games will advance to the Semi-Finals. The four losing teams of the Quarter Finals will be ranked 5 through 8 according to their ranking after the Preliminary Round.

  12. The Semi-Final games will be played with the following match-ups. The home team will be the higher ranked team as determined at the completion of the Preliminary Round (Group D):
    • F1 - F4
    • F2 - F3

  13. The two winning teams of the Semi-Finals will play for the Gold Medal while the two losing teams of the Semi-Finals will play for the Bronze Medal.

  14. The home teams for both the Bronze Medal and Gold Medal games will be the higher ranked teams as determined at the conclusion of the Preliminary Round.

Three Point System

For all Preliminary Round Games in both the Men’s and the Women’s tournaments of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, points shall be awarded as follows:
  • 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 the overtime period

  • 0 points for the team losing the game in regulation time

Tie-Breaking System

The tie-breaking system for two teams with the same number of points in a standing will be the game between the two teams, the winner of the game taking precedence.

Due to the fact that the three-point system does not allow a game to end in a tie, then the following tie breaking procedure is applicable when three or more teams are tied in points in a Championship standing.

Should three or more teams be tied on points, then a tie breaking formula will be applied as follows, creating a sub-group amongst the tied teams. This process will continue until only two teams remain tied. The game between the two remaining tied teams would then be the determining tie-breaker as the game between these two teams could not end as a tie.

Step 1:
Taking into consideration the games between each of the tied teams, a sub-group is created applying the points awarded in the direct games amongst the tied teams from which the teams are then ranked accordingly.

Step 2:
Should the teams still remain tied then the better goal difference in the direct games amongst the tied teams will be decisive.

Step 3:
Should the teams still remain tied then the highest number of goals scored by these teams in their direct games will be decisive

Step 4:
Should three or more teams still remain tied then the results between each of the three teams and the closest best-ranked team outside the sub-group will be applied. In this case the tied team with the best result (1. points, 2. goal difference, 3. more goals scored) against the closest best ranked-team will take precedence

Step 5:
Should the teams still remain tied, then the results between each of the three teams and the next highest best-ranked team outside the sub-group will be applied.

Step 6:
Should the teams still remain tied after these five steps have been exercised then Sport considerations will be applied and the tied teams will be ranked following their 2009 IIHF World Ranking Positions.

Overtime Operations

If following the completion of regulation time and the score of such a game is tied, the teams will then play a 4-on-4 overtime period with the team scoring the first goal declared the winner.

If any Preliminary Round game in either the Men’s or the Women’s tournaments of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games is tied at the end of regulation time, a five-minute overtime period shall be played immediately after an intermission of three minutes. The teams will defend the same goals as in the third period. The game will end when the five minutes has expired or when a goal is scored; the scoring team will be declared the winner. If no goal is scored in the overtime period then the Game Winning Shots Procedure will apply.

If a playoff game, a Qualification Playoff Game, a Quarter Final game, a Semi-Final game or a Bronze Medal game is tied at the end of regulation time, then a ten-minute overtime period shall be played immediately following the completion of an intermission of three minutes. The teams will defend the same goals as in the third period. The game will end when the ten minutes has expired or when a goal is scored; the scoring team will be declared the winner. If no goal is scored in the overtime period then the Game Winning Shots Procedure will apply.

If a Gold Medal Final Game is tied at the end of regulation time, then a twenty-minute overtime period shall be played immediately following the completion of a 15-minute intermission during which the ice will be resurfaced. The teams will change ends for the overtime period. The puck will be faced off at centre ice. The game will end when the twenty minutes has expired or when a goal is scored; the scoring team will be declared the winner. If no goal is scored in the overtime period then the Game Winning Shots Procedure will apply.

All overtime periods of any IIHF game shall be played with each team at the numerical strength of four (4) skaters and one (1) goalkeeper. Specific rules for this procedure are as follows:
  1. If a team is penalized in overtime, the teams will play 4-on-3. Coincidental penalties do not affect the on-ice strength when assessed in overtime.

  2. In overtime, if a team is penalized such that a two-man advantage is called for, then the offending team will remain at three (3) skaters while the non-offending team will be permitted a fifth skater.

  3. At the first stoppage of play after the two-man advantage is no longer in effect, the numerical strength of the team will revert back to either a 4-on-4 or a 4-on-3 situation, as appropriate.

  4. If there is a manpower advantage situation, which carries over from regulation time to overtime, the above criteria will be applied at the start of the overtime. Accordingly, if at the end of the regulation time, the teams are 5-on-4, overtime begins at 4-on-3.

  5. When the regulation time ends with an on-ice manpower strength of 5-on-3, teams will commence the overtime with a strength of 5-on-3. With the expiration of penalties, due to continuous action, player strength may get to 5-on-5 or 5-on-4. At the first stoppage of play following, player strength must be adjusted to 4-on-4 or 4-on-3.

  6. If at the end of regulation time teams are 3-on-3, overtime starts 3-on-3. Once player strength reaches 5-on-4 or 5-on-5, at the next stoppage player strength is adjusted to 4-on-3 or 4-on-4, as appropriate.

If at the end of regulation time teams are 4-on-4 with a player or players in the box serving non-coincidental penalties, overtime starts 4-on-4 and players exit the penalty box as normal to 5-on-4 or 5-on-5. At the first stoppage of play, teams are adjusted to 4-on-3 or 4-on-4, as appropriate.

Game-Winning-Shots Procedure

If following the completion of regulation time in any game in either the Men’s or the Women’s tournaments of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and the score of such a game is tied, the teams will then play a 4-on-4 overtime period following the Overtime Procedures listed above, with the team scoring the first goal declared the winner.

However, if no goal is scored in the overtime period then the IIHF Game Winning Shots Procedure will apply. The following procedure will be utilized:
  1. Shots will be taken at both ends of the ice surface. The longitudinal centre section of the rink will be dry-scraped by the ice-resurfacing machine prior to the Game Winning Shots during the time required to organize the program accordingly.

  2. The procedure will begin with three different shooters from each team taking alternate shots. The players do not need to be named beforehand. Eligible to participate in the Game Winning Shots will be the four goalkeepers and all players from both teams listed on the official game sheet except as specified in article 3 below.

  3. Any player whose penalty had not been completed when the overtime period ended is not eligible to be one of the players selected to take the shots and must remain in the penalty box or in the dressing room. Also players serving penalties imposed during the game winning shots must remain in the penalty box or in the dressing room until the end of the procedure.

  4. The Referee will call the two captains to the Referee Crease and flip a coin to determine which team takes the first shot. The winner of the coin toss will have the choice whether his team will shoot first or second.

  5. The goalkeepers shall defend the same goal as in the overtime period.

  6. The goalkeepers from each team may be changed after each shot.

  7. The shots will be taken in accordance with rule 509 of the IIHF Official Rule Book.

  8. The players of both teams will take the shots alternately until a decisive goal is scored. The remaining shots will not be taken.

  9. If the result is still tied after 3 shots by each team the procedure shall continue with a tie-break shoot-out by one player of each team, with the same or new players with the other team starting to take the tie-break shots. The same player can also be used for each shot by a team in the tie-break shoot-out. The game shall be finished as soon as a duel of two players brings the decisive result.

  10. The Official Scorekeeper will record all shots taken, indicating the players, goalkeepers and goals scored.

  11. Only the decisive goal will count in the result of the game. It shall be credited to the player who scored and to the goalkeeper concerned.

  12. If a team declines to participate in the game winning shots procedure the game will be declared as a loss for that team and the other team will be awarded 3 points for a win. If a player declines to take a shot it will be declared "no score" for his team.