Inform your predictions ahead of the ice hockey competition at the 2022 Winter Olympics with insight, analysis, and odds from Pinnacle.
Ice hockey has been a fixture at the Winter Olympics since 1924, although the sport actually made its Olympic debut in the Summer Olympics in Antwerp four years prior. There will be two events in Beijing 2022, a Men's and Women's event.
22 teams across two events
The Men's tournament will feature 12 teams split into three groups of four, with eight seeded teams joined by hosts China and three other teams who will make it through qualifying. Each group will be played in a round-robin format with teams playing each other once, with the group winners qualifying for the quarter-finals along with the highest-ranked of the remaining teams.
The remaining eight teams will then play a further qualification game to determine the rest of the quarter-final line-up, with knockout matches from there on to determine the gold medal winners, with the losing semi-finalists competing for the bronze medal.
For the first time ever, the Women's event will feature 10 teams, an increase of two from 2018, with six ranked teams being joined by hosts China and three qualifiers. The 10 teams will be split into two groups of five, with all teams from Group A qualifying for the quarter-finals, while the top-three ranked teams in Group B will join them. From there on, there will be a series of knockout games to determine the medal winners.
Where and when is the ice hockey?
Hosting duties will be shared by two venues - the Beijing National Indoor Stadium and the Wukesong Arena. The Women's event kicks off the action on the rink on February 3, with the group stages set to be completed on February 8. The Wukesong Arena will stage both medal matches in the Women's event, with the bronze medal match on February 16, a day before the gold medal match.
The Men's event opens up on February 9, with the group stages to be completed on February 13. The qualification playoffs start two days later, on February 15. The National Indoor Arena will stage both semi-finals as well as both medal matches, with the bronze medal match taking place on February 19, before the gold medal match concludes the ice hockey action on February 20.
History on Canada and Russia's side at the Winter Olympics
When it comes to ice hockey at the Olympics, Canada stand out historically in the men's game, having won 16 medals including nine golds. Having won the first four gold medals on offer, and six of the first seven, Canada's early dominance was ended by the Soviet Union but they returned to the top of the Men's game, winning gold in 2002, 2010, and 2014.
However, a decision by the NHL to prevent any of their players from participating in the Winter Olympics (due to the massive disruption to their programme caused by the Coronavirus pandemic), means that most teams, but particularly Canada and the USA, will be without some of their best talent in Beijing. Arguably, that decision plays into the hands of the team representing Russia, playing this time as the Russian Olympic Committee, who also won gold in 2018 as Olympic Athletes from Russia.
Russia are likely to be towards the top of the betting.
Vadim Shipachyov and Andrei Kuzmenko lead the way in terms of points in the KHL this season and are sure to be key players in the squad, while there is likely to be plenty of NHL experience in the shape of Alexey Marchenko, Slava Voynov, and Nikita Nesterov. As such, and as defending champions, Russia are likely to be towards the top of the betting but it is worth noting that their PyeongChang success was their first Olympic gold medal since 1992, which came under the banner of the Unified Team.
Russia have also struggled in the World Championships of late. They have not won gold since 2014 and last reached the final a year later while they didn't make it past the quarter-finals in 2021, despite winning their group.
Last year's World Championships does not make things easy from a betting perspective as Canada only just scraped out of their group as the fourth seed, having lost three of their seven group games in regulation, and another after overtime, but ultimately went on to win gold.
Canada got the better of Russia, the USA, and Finland - two after overtime - in the knockout rounds to lift the title for the 22nd time, becoming the first side to do so after losing four matches in the tournament.
All-American dominance in the Women's game
History suggests the gold medal fight will be a straightforward matchup between Canada and the USA, with the two teams having contested five of the six Olympic finals so far, the exception coming in 2006 when Sweden won silver.
Canada have won four gold medals to the USA's two but it is the latter who are the defending champions. The prospect of an all-North American final is emphasised by the World Championships records, with the pair having faced off in 19 of the 20 finals, with defending champions Canada outscoring the USA 11-9 in the gold medal stakes.