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8 Flyers on five countries competing at IIHF World Championships

Head Coach Alain Vigneault leads Canada, joined by goaltending coach Kim Dillabaugh

by PhiladelphiaFlyers.com @nhlflyers

The Philadelphia Flyers will have eight players on five countries represented at this year's International Ice Hockey Federation World Championships, hosted in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia.

The tournament kicks off with the round robin on Friday, May 10 through May 21, with the elimination and medal rounds taking place on May 23-26. 

Seven of the eight Flyers going to Worlds will be in action on the very first day with four Flyers facing off against each other as the Czech Republic will take on Sweden. A complete breakdown of the players and game action is below:

CANADA (2)

* Took back-to-back Gold in 2015 & 2016 and will once again field a roster entirely made up of NHL players, including Sean Couturier and Carter Hart, who Vigneault hinted will get some playing time despite Matt Murray taking the starters role.

VIGNEAULT: "I've had good conversations with Carter and I've had a good conversation with Mackenzie Blackwood also, about their role and their job. There's no doubt with the possible number of games, 10 games in 17 days, I'm definitely going to use two goaltenders."

Sean Couturier: One of the most experienced players on Team Canada, Couturier has represented his country on several occasions throughout his career, which includes a gold medal at the 2015 Worlds in Prague when he posted seven points (3g-4a) in 10 games throughout the tournament.

He has also won a pair of silver medals for Canada - once in the junior ranks at the 2011 World Junior Championships in Buffalo, NY and another at the main World Championships in 2017.

Carter Hart: Will get his first taste of an IIHF World Championship but by no means will be a stranger to international play for Hockey Canada.

Hart was the starting goaltender for two World Junior Championships - winning silver in 2017 and leading Canada to gold in 2018. He finished his World Junior career tied for a Canadian record for the most wins by a goaltender (8), with an all-time record of 8-0-2; his only losses came past regulation play and both in shootouts.

UP NEXT: Canada takes on Finland at 10:15 a.m. (NHL Network)

 

UNITED STATES (1)

* The U.S. will field one of their deepest rosters in recent years and come in as a heavy favorite. They are looking to end a gold medal drought of 59 years, last winning in 1960, but have earned bronze in three of the last six years, including last May.

van RIEMSDYK: "We're excited. Looking at the roster, we have a lot of pretty established guys from their NHL clubs as well as some young and promising players. We've got a good mix so hopefully we can make some noise when we're over there."

* Early indications see James van Riemsdyk on a line with former 1st overall pick Patrick Kane and projected 1st overall pick this summer, Jack Hughes.

James van Riemsdyk: The lone participant on the Flyers for the U.S., he is also one of the few members to have appeared in three World Junior Championships (2007, 08, 09) the final of which he posted six goals and 10 points in six games of the tournament.

JVR's tenure for USA Hockey goes well beyond the junior ranks. This is his second World Championships (2011), and he was a member of the United States Olympic Team in the Sochi Games of 2014 when he averaged over a point per-game with seven points (1g-6a) in six games. He also appeared for the U.S. in the World Cup of Hockey in 2016.

UP NEXT: USA vs. Slovakia takes at 2:15 a.m. (NHL Network)

 

CZECH REPUBLIC (2)

* The Czechs will be looking for their first medal since 2012, which ended a streak of three straight medals (2010: Gold, 2011: Bronze, 2012: Bronze).

Jakub Voracek : Is the most experienced Flyer in World Championship play - he will appearing in his sixth Worlds tournament, last appearing in 2017 when he was named captain of the squad. He also has played in 2010, 2011, 2013, 2015, earning a gold medal in his very first tournament and a bronze in 2011.

In his five previous Worlds tournaments, Voracek has recorded 28 points (6g-22a) in 44 contests, including 16 points (4g-12a) in his last 18 tournament games.

He appeared in all six games of the World Cup of Hockey in 2016, the 2014 Winter Olympics, as well as the 2007 & 2008 World Junior Championships.

Radko Gudas : The Flyers reigning Barry Ashbee Trophy winner this past season will appear in his third World Championship for the Czechs, all in the last three years. He played every game in the tournament in the previous two years, serving as alternate captain in 2018 and compiling five points (2g-3a) in 16 games to go along with a plus-5 rating.

He has also represented the Czechs in the 2009 & 2010 World Junior Championships, well as the 2014 Sochi Olympics - He was selected for the World Cup of Hockey squad in 2016, but did not participate due to injury.

UP NEXT: Czech Republic vs. Sweden at 2:15 p.m. (Not Televised)

 

SWEDEN (2)

* Sweden comes in as the back-to-back defending gold medalists, defeating Canada in 2017 and Switzerland in 2018, while earning 17 consecutive wins over the last two tournaments.

Oskar Lindblom : He is participating in his first Worlds tournament, but is very familiar with playing for, and having success with, Tre Kronor. He was a member of Sweden's World Junior teams in 2015 & 2016 and posted a total of 15 points (7g-8a) in just 14 games.

Robert Hagg : Also participating in his first Worlds tournament is Hagg, who participated in three World Junior Championships and earned silver medals in 2013 and 2014. In addition, he has experience with Sweden in the WJC-U18 and WHC-U17 teams.

UP NEXT: Sweden vs. Czech Republic at 2:15 p.m. (Not Televised)

 

AUSTRIA (1)

Michael Raffl : After his sixth season in Orange & Black, Raffl will head off to his sixth World Championship for Austria, including the second straight year. 

Last year, the team did not qualify for the medal round, but Raffl led the team in goal-scoring with four tallies and tied for the team lead with five points (4g-1a) in his five games. He was also the only player with a plus rating on the squad, posting a +3.

UP NEXT: May 11 - Austria vs. Latvia at 10:15 p.m. (Not Televised)

 

TOURNAMENT FORMAT

A total of 16 teams are divided into two, eight-team groups in the Preliminary Round.

GROUP A: Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Slovakia & United States.  

GROUP B: Austria, Czech Republic, Italy, Latvia, Norway, Russia, Sweden & Switzerland.

After a single round-robin series in each group, the top four teams from each group advance to the Playoff Round.

 

The top-four ranked teams of each group will be played cross-over. The first-place team in each preliminary-round group plays the fourth-place team of the other group, while the second-place team plays the third-place team of the other group. The winning teams advance to the semifinals.

The winning teams of the semifinal games advance to the gold medal game while the semi-final losing teams play for bronze.

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