Although most of the Blackhawks have hung up their skates for the season, three forwards – Marian Hossa (Slovakia), Michael Frolik (Czech Republic) and Marcus Kruger (Sweden) – accepted invitations from their respective countries to play in the 2011 International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship tournament, which is being held this month in Slovakia.
With the preliminary round's conclusion Wednesday, the top 12 teams of the tournament have advanced to play in the qualification round. The top 8 teams of that round will advance to the single-elimination playoff, which will decide the 2011 IIHF World Champion.
As the tournament continues, chicagoblackhawks.com will track the play of the Blackhawks as they compete for gold on the world stage.
Winger Marian Hossa returned to his home country of Slovakia in time to play in two of the host country’s three preliminary round games, recording one assist as the Slovaks fell to Germany, 4-3, on Sunday, while being held scoreless in Slovakia’s 4-3 loss to Russia on Tuesday. In two games, Hossa has recorded a +1 plus/minus rating, while accruing two penalty minutes, and has seen roughly 20 minutes of ice time per contest. Hossa and the Slovakian team will face fellow Blackhawk Michael Frolik and the Czech Republic on Friday in its first matchup of the qualification round, then take on Finland (Saturday) and Denmark (Monday).
Frolik helped lead the Czech Republic to a perfect 3-0-0 record in the preliminary round, ranking second on the team with two goals and adding an assist as the Czechs swept through Group D matchups with Latvia, Denmark and Finland. Through three games, the 23-year-old forward's two goals is 8th overall in the tournament and goes with a +3 plus/minus rating. The Czech Republic takes on Hossa and the Slovakian national team Friday in their first qualification-round game, followed by matchups with top-rated Russian and the red-hot German teams Sunday and Tuesday respectively.
Sweden’s Marcus Kruger was held scoreless in two preliminary-round games against Norway and Austria but broke out to score the go-ahead goal Wednesday against the U.S. in the Swedes' eventual 4-2 victory. The 20-year-old center has recorded a +1 plus/minus rating in three games, averaging just under 8 minutes of ice time per game. Sweden will battle France, Switzerland and Canada in the qualification round for a chance to compete for Gold.
For a complete IIHF World Championship schedule, plus rosters for all competing countries in the tournament, click here.