The preliminaries are officially out of the way.
Now it begins to get a little more serious at the 2008 IIHF World Hockey Championship, with the beginning of the qualification round today.
Twelve teams remain alive in the tournament, which is being played in two Canadian cities – Quebec City and Halifax – for the first time ever. They’ve been divided into two groups of six for the second phase.
Canada leads Group F with a 2-0-0 record, with its victories over two other qualifiers – the U.S. and Latvia – being carried forward. Finland, Norway and Germany round out the group.
Surprising Switzerland is 2-0-0 atop Group E, thanks to victories over Sweden and Belarus. Russia, the Czech Republic and Denmark fill out the rest of that group.
The top from each group qualify for the May 14 quarter-finals.
Team Canada stays in Halifax for its three qualification round games, starting with a matchup with Norway today (3:30 p.m., TSN, Team 1200). It’s a rival that Canada has dominated in previous world championship affairs, winning 14-of-15 previous meetings while outscoring the Norwegians 96-18.
On Saturday, the Canadians take on a German side that includes Senators defenceman Christoph Schubert, who'll face off against Ottawa teammates Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza
. Then it’s a matchup with Finland on Monday.
The Swiss’ surprising early run is being backstopped by Senators goaltender Martin Gerber, who is 2-0-0 so far in the tournament. Switzerland faces the Czechs tonight at the Pepsi Colisée in Quebec City.
For a Canada-Norway game preview, click here
.Heatley following a familiar Canadian trail
Senators forward Dany Heatley, who leads the tournament with 10 points – including six goals – is naturally the early favourite to earn the scoring title at the worlds.
If he pulls it off, Heatley would by following in the footsteps of a number of skilled Canadian forwards who have earned that distinction at previous world championships.
Read more about it at www.iihf.com
.Swede suspended for hit on Sens prospect
Defenceman Niclas Wallin of Sweden has been suspended for two games for his vicious hit on Swiss forward Roman Wick during their preliminary round game Wednesday night in Quebec City.
Wick, a Senators prospect, suffered a severe concussion after a hit to the head and neck area by Wallin late in the third period of Switzerland’s 4-2 victory over Sweden. IIHF.com reported Wick had “complete amnesia” for 10 minutes after the hit. He’s expected to be sidelined for 6-10 days.
Wallin received a match penalty for the infraction, which carries an automatic one-game suspension. But the tournament’s rules directorate added a second game because of the severity of the hit.For more World Championship coverage, click here