at the XXIII Olympic Winter Games
|Venues||Gangneung Hockey Centre
Kwandong Hockey Centre
|Dates||10–25 February 2018|
|No. of events||2 (1 men, 1 women)|
|Competitors||496 from 14 nations|
|Ice hockey at the
2018 Winter Olympics
The ice hockey competitions of the 2018 Winter Olympics were played at two venues within the Gangneung Coastal Cluster in Gangneung, South Korea. The Gangneung Hockey Centre, which seats 10,000, and the Kwandong Hockey Centre, which seats 6,000, were both originally scheduled to be completed in 2016 but appear to have been completed in early 2017. Both venues contain Olympic-sized rinks (60 by 30 m (196.85 by 98.43 ft)).
Twelve teams competed in the men’s tournament, which was to be held from 14 to 25 February, while eight teams competed in the women’s tournament, from 10 to 22 February. In a historic deal, the women’s tournament featured a combined Korean team with an expanded roster.
|1||Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR)||1||0||0||1|
|United States (USA)||1||0||0||1|
||Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR)||Germany (GER)||Canada (CAN)|
||United States (USA)||Canada (CAN)||Finland (FIN)|
The tournament featured 12 countries, eight qualifying through the IIHF World Ranking, 3 through subsequent qualifying tournaments, and the host South Korea men’s national ice hockey team. The format were the same as 2010 and 2014; three groups of four competed in three games to determine seeding, each playing every other team in their group, followed by four rounds of elimination games. Each group winner received a bye into the second round, along with the highest ranked of the remaining teams. The remaining eight teams played an eliminating qualification game to advance to the quarter-final round. Each quarter-final winner advanced to the semi-finals with the winners playing for the gold medal and the losers playing for the bronze.
Qualification was determined by the IIHF World Ranking following the 2015 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships. The top eight teams in the World Ranking receive automatic berths into the Olympics, the host received an automatic berth, and the remaining teams competed to qualify for the remaining three spots. In April 2014 René Fasel indicated that the Koreans would need a ranking of 18th or better but in September of the same year the policy was apparently changed to guarantee the host a position.
On 3 April 2017, the National Hockey League announced that its players would not be made available for selection for the national teams in the 2018 Winter Olympics. While it was “open to hearing from any of the other parties who might have an interest in the issue”, the NHL “confirmed that it has no interest or intention of engaging in any discussion that might make Olympic participation more attractive to the Clubs” and that it would not schedule a break for the Olympics in the 2017–18 season; to compensate, the NHL scheduled its all-star game and league-wide bye week for January, a month before the Olympics. The primary disagreement between the NHL, IIHF, and IOC appears to have been over who would pay to insure players. The IOC agreed to insure the players for the 2014 Olympics at a cost of $14 million, but was unwilling to pay again. IOC appeared concerned that if it continued to cover the costs of NHL players, other professional bodies would demand similar treatment. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman noted that the NHL does not directly profit from their presence in the Olympics and that the IOC’s ambush marketing rules make it difficult for the league to capitalize on its players’ participation, adding that, “in fact, we kind of disappear for two weeks because historically the IOC hasn’t even let us join in promoting our participation in the Olympics”.
The American Hockey League—a minor professional league that has largely acted as a development league for the NHL, stated that it would allow its players to be loaned to national teams for the duration of the Olympics (although like the NHL, there will not be a break in the season for the Games). CBC Sports reported that AHL players under two-way contracts with NHL affiliates would still be prohibited from attending, but deputy commissioner Bill Daly denied the claim. Two weeks later, Daly reversed that position and stated that AHL players on two-way contracts would indeed be prohibited from the Olympics.
Unlike NHL, vast majority of European leagues will accommodate an Olympic break, headlined by Russia-based KHL‘s 33-days break, Sweden-based Swedish Hockey League‘s 14-days break, Switzerland-based National League‘s 25-days break, German-based Deutsche Eishockey Liga‘s 26-days break, Czech Republic-based Extraliga‘s 18-days break and Slovakia-based Tipsport liga‘s 14-days break. Conversely, Finland-based SM-liiga will not accommodate a break, but will allow its top players leave the clubs and participate in the Olympics.
The women’s tournament will run from 10 to 22 February. Eight nations will compete. The format will be the same as 2014. The top 4 seeded teams play in group A and the next four in group B. The top two seeds from group A will receive a bye from the quarterfinal round. The bottom two group A teams will play the top two group B teams in the quarterfinal round. The winner of these two games will play the top two group A teams in the semifinal round. The winners of the semifinal round will play for the gold medal and the losers will play for the bronze.
Qualification was determined by the IIHF World Ranking following the 2016 IIHF Women’s World Championship. The top five teams in the World Ranking receive automatic berths into the Olympics. South Korea gained direct entry by being host and all other teams competed to qualify for the remaining two spots.
A total of 496 athletes from 14 nations (including the IOC’s designation of Olympic Athletes from Russia) were scheduled to participate (the numbers of athletes are shown in parentheses). The IOC initially admitted 13 men’s or women’s teams to compete. Later, North Korean athletes were rostered to participate in the women’s tournament alongside South Korean athletes in a combined women’s Korean team. Men’s rosters can be made up of 25 players, while women’s rosters can consist of up to 23. The Czech, German, Norwegian, Slovakian, and Slovenian teams entered only the men’s competition, while the Japanese team alone entered only the women’s competition. All other teams played in both tournaments.