ASTANA – On the heels of Kazakhstan’s return to the top echelon of hockey with its performance in Group A of the Ice Hockey World Championships earlier this month, the country has been once again ranked 17th in the world by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). Canada, Russia and Sweden are the IIHF’s top three teams.
The next season is going to be doubly interesting for Kazakh fans. The 2016 World Championship will be held in Russia, with matches in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Kazakhstan, which is in Group B, is already scheduled for matches in the Russian capital against the national teams of Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, Latvia, Norway and Denmark. Canada won this year’s World Championships in the Czech Republic on May 17, beating their Russian opponents, 6-1.
The IIHF also published its “Power Rankings,” reflecting the progress of teams through the World Championships and teasing or praising different teams for their results. Finland, which fell two places to fourth in the 2015 official rankings, fared worse in the power rankings, reaching only sixth and earning the slogan “1995, 2011: we’ll be back in heaven in 2027,” for their long intervals between moments of hockey glory. Canada, of course, was given “We got what we wanted: The Infront Team Jackpot” for climbing three places to number one, while Russia, which moved one slot up to number two, asks “What time does the gold medal game start?”
Sweden, with whom Kazakhstan will face off in the next year, fell two places in the official rankings and got “No Sedins, no Stockholm – we never had a chance,” which perhaps bodes well for the Kazakhs in the coming matchup. And Switzerland, whose official position hasn’t changed from last year to this, still got the ominous “No time left on the cuckoo clock,” which perhaps recalls their second result at the championships two years ago.