Canada qualify to defend Olympic ice hockey crown at Sochi 2014
Wednesday, 16 May 2012
May 16 – Having ensured their place at the last eight of the World Championships and a place at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, Canada are now setting their sights on a first win at the competition since 2007.
Canada are the reigning Olympic gold medallists in both the men's and women's tournaments.
But the hosts of the last Olympics in Vancouver in 2010 have not won at the World Championship since the event in Moscow in 2007.
Canada were among nine teams to qualify for the ice hockey tournament at Sochi 2014 following the preliminary round of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championships.
The other teams were hosts Russia, Finland, Sweden, Czech Republic, the United States, Norway, Slovakia and Switzerland.
The first nine teams qualified as a result of their 2012 world rankings following the qualifiers in Stockholm and Helsinki.
Steve Yzerman (pictured below), the executive director of the Canadian team, was at the World Championships to run the rule over their squad.
"This tournament is important for us," he said.
"You hear about the world rankings, but it's important for the [Olympics] - the way your schedule is set up and what not.
"We want to do well at this tournament.
"We're trying to get a successful program going and we have not won a gold since 2007.
"You put the team together quickly and somebody different wins it every year.
"It's a hard tournament, the other countries have just got better.
"It's no longer just Russia, Canada, Finland, Sweden, US - all these games are tough games.
"All the countries have improved and it makes it harder to win."
Three more teams will qualify for the tournament via final Olympic qualification tournaments next year.
Currently Germany, Latvia and Denmark occupy positions 10-12 in the rankings, meaning they are in pole position to host those tournaments.
A total of 34 teams entered the race to compete at Sochi 2014, but the majority will have to hope to come through next year's final qualifiers.
In the women's tournament, Russia will be joined by the United States, Finland, Canada, Switzerland and Sweden with another two teams to be determined through qualifiers.