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Multiple Coyotes to Compete at 2015 IIHF World Championship

by Dave Vest / Arizona Coyotes

GLENDALE – Several Coyotes players have opted to continue playing competitive hockey this spring at the upcoming IIHF World Championship in the Czech Republic.

The annual 16-nation tournament begins May 1 and runs until May 17.

Oliver Ekman-Larsson. Photo by Getty Images.

Although official rosters have yet to be announced, defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson, who led the Coyotes with 23 goals and 43 points in 2014-15, is expected to play for Sweden.

"It’s going to be fun," Ekman-Larsson said. "It’s always an honor to represent your country, so I’m really excited for that. It’s going to be a good time."

Ekman-Larsson has played for Sweden before, most recently at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. The Swedes finished second to Canada there.

While Ekman-Larsson won a silver medal at Sochi, Coyotes goalie Mike Smith captured a gold medal there with Canada. Smith will attempt to win another gold at the World Championship.

"Any time you have an opportunity to play for your country it’s an honor, even though it’s not the highest stage like the Olympics," Smith said. "But I will have a chance to play some games there and I get to go to Prague, which is not a bad place. And it’s good to get your body used to playing this time of the year."

Mike Smith. Photo by Norm Hall.

Three Coyotes are expected play for the United States at the World Championship. They are defensemen Connor Murphy and John Moore, and forward Mark Arcobello. Meanwhile, rookie Tobias Rieder is slated to play for Germany and forward Martin Erat will play for Czech Republic.

The 16 teams have been split into two groups for the preliminary round.

Group A, which will play preliminary round games in Prague: Sweden, Canada, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Latvia, France, Germany, and Austria.

Group B, which will play its preliminary round games in Ostrava: Finland, Russia, United States, Slovakia, Norway, Belarus, Slovenia, Denmark.

NOTE: NBC Sports Group -- via NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra -- will provide exclusive live broadcast coverage of all Team USA games during the 2015 IIHF Men's World Hockey Championship. Click here for more information.

For more information on the tournament, visit iihfworlds2015.com.

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