In just over two days, the puck will drop for the 2015 IIHF Men’s Ice Hockey World Championship in Prague and Ostrava, Czech Republic. Nashville Predators fans will see some familiar faces on the ice – goaltender Pekka Rinne (Finland), defensemen Seth Jones (United States), Mattias Ekholm (Sweden) and Roman Josi (Switzerland) and forwards Filip Forsberg (Sweden) and Kevin Fiala (Switzerland); plus, two faces they’ll likely be seeing in the near future in forwards Steve Moses (United States) and Jimmy Vesey (United States). All eight of these players, current and future Preds, will lace up their skates for their home countries in the upcoming weeks.
Seven of the eight Preds representatives taking to the ice at the World Championship have skated for their home countries before with five of the eight playing previously at the World Championships (Rinne, Jones, Ekholm, Josi and Fiala). Forsberg and Vesey, who have played internationally at U-18 and World Junior events, will be playing in their first senior level World Championship, and Moses will be making his first-ever appearance for the Americans at a World Championship, at any level. Additionally, Preds players have taken home MVP honors in each of the past two events: Rinne in 2014 and Josi in 2013.
The Championship, which will run from Friday, May 1 to Sunday, May 17, is composed of 16 teams divided into two groups during the Preliminary Round. Following the preliminary round, the top four teams in each group play against each other in the quarterfinal round with the winning teams advancing on to the semifinals. The winners of the semifinal games play for the gold medal while the losers take part in the bronze medal matchup.
Throughout the tournament, teams will be awarded three points for winning in regulation; one point will be given to each team in games that go to extra time and an additional point will be given to the team that claims the victory in overtime or a shootout (two total points to overtime or shootout victors).
Rinne’s Finnish squad, who are currently ranked second in the IIHF World Pre-Championship Report, and Jones, Vesey, and Moses' American team, currently ranked fifth, will both start the tournament in Group B. Finland and the United States play their first game of the tournament against each other on Friday.
Josi and Fiala’s seventh-ranked Swiss squad and Ekholm and Forsberg’s Swedish team, currently the owners of the World No. 1 ranking, both begin the tournament in Group A. Sweden and Switzerland will meet near the end of the Preliminary Round on Saturday, May 9.
Preds World Championship Representatives Quick Hits:
Pekka Rinne (Finland):
- Playing in his fourth World Championship (2009, 2010 and 2014)
- Named Most Valuable Player at the 2014 World Championship after posting a 6-3 record, 1.88 goals-against average, .928 save percentage and three shutouts to lead Finland to a silver medal despite having only two other NHLers on its roster.
- A member of the 2014 World Championship Media All-Star Team and was named one of Finland’s best three players at the event.
- Named one of Finland’s best three players in 2009 and 2010.
Seth Jones (United States of America):
- Playing in his second World Championship (2014), also represented the United States at the 2011 and 2012 Under-18 World Championships and the 2013 World Junior Championship.
- At the 2014 Worlds, named Best Defenseman and to the tournament All-Star Team.
- Was the eighth U.S. player to receive a directorate award at the World Championship (2014) after leading tournament blueliners in points (2g-9a-11pts), assists and ranking second among all skaters in assists (tie) and average ice time (25:38).
- Named one of the Americans’ best three players, led the team in points and assists and the team’s youngest player.
Jimmy Vesey (United States of America):
- Making his first appearance with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
- Helped the United States claim the Gold medal (with fellow Preds WC rep Seth Jones) at the 2013 World Junior Championship, where he posted five points (1g-4a) in seven games played.
Steve Moses (United States of America):
- Making his first appearance with the U.S. Men’s National Team.
Mattias Ekholm (Sweden):
- Playing in his second World Championship (bronze, 2014), but has also represented the Swedes at the 2010 World Junior Championship and the 2008 Under-18 World Championship.
- Named one of the Swedes’ Top Three players at the 2014 World Championship after tying for second among tournament defensemen in points (2g-5a-7pts) and scoring two game-winning goals.
- Led all Swedish skaters in average time on ice (21:56).
Filip Forsberg (Sweden):
- Making his first appearance with the Swedish Men’s National Team.
- Has played previously for Sweden at the 2011 and 2012 Under-18 World Championship and at the World Junior Championship in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
- Captained the Swedish World Junior team for two consecutive years (2013 and 2014), leading the team to the gold-medal game all three years and finishing with one gold and two silvers.
- In 2014, became the first Swede to win tournament MVP honors, was named the tournament’s Best Forward by the Directorate and named to the Media All-Star Team after finishing second in points (4g-8a-12pts), second in assists and tied for fourth in goals.
Roman Josi (Switzerland):
- 2015 is his sixth appearance for Team Switzerland at a World Championship tournament.
- Has also represented the Swiss at the Under-18 World Championship (2007 and 2008), World Junior Championship/Division I World Junior Championship (2007, 2008, 2009 and 2010) and the Olympic Games (2014).
- In 2009, was the youngest player on the Swiss roster and the third-youngest player in the World Championship tournament overall.
- In 2013, was the first Swiss player to receive Most Valuable Player honors, be named Best Defenseman and be named to the tournament All-Star team after leading all tournament defensemen in goals (4) and points (9) and leading Swiss players in points and average time on ice (20:08).
- Was a member of the 2013 Swiss squad that took home a silver medal, the nation’s first medal in 60 years.
- Named one of Switzerland’s Top Three players in 2014 and ranked second among tournament defensemen in points (1g-6a-7pts, 7gp).
Kevin Fiala (Switzerland)
- Making his second appearance at the World Championship for Switzerland.
- In 2014, became the third player to play in the Under-18 World Championship, the World Junior Championship and the World Championship all in one year.
- Was the Swiss’ youngest player by three years at the 2014 World Championship where he posted three assists and a team-best +3 rating.
It was recently announced that Juuse Saros, Nashville’s fourth choice (99th overall, fourth round) in the 2013 NHL Draft, will be one of the two goalies backing up Rinne for Team Finland at the World Championship.
- Was Finland’s third goalie at the 2014 World Championship, playing behind Pekka Rinne and Mikko Koskinen and earning a silver medal.
- Most recently played for the Finns at the 2015 World Junior Championship where he started two of Finland’s five games and finished with a .875 save percentage and a 3.03 goals-against average.
- Part of Finland’s 2014 World Junior Championship team that took home Gold, where he was named to the WJC Media All-Star Team after leading tournament goaltenders in goals-against average (1.86) and save percentage (.933) in six games.
All of the United States’ games will be shown live via NBC Sports Network or Live Stream online, beginning with the USA versus Finland on Friday, May 1 at 9 a.m. CT.
For the most up to date information on how all of the Nashville Predators representatives are doing at the event, stay tuned to Nashvillepredators.com.