17 April 2009

An international experience in my backyard


I crossed over the flooded river in 'Head to see some ice hockey at the Moorhead Sports Center. The IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) U18 World Championships are being held in the area and promise I take in one game. That one game happened to be Norway versus Switzerland. Nothing really special. Across town at the new Urban Plains Center the U.S. were playing Czech Republic. But I decided I'd go for the cheap game ($6 compared to upwards of $30).
No disappointments. It was a good game. I had a great seat.
Norway were already losing 2-0 when I arrived at about 5 minutes into the 1st period. Switzerland were just trouncing the Norwegians although I thought Norway played a better passing game. The teams were sort of the calibre of minor league hockey although they often looked like the Wild on a bad day. It has been a rather high scoring tournament so 7-3 wasn't anything out of the norm.
In researching the IIHF U18 World Championship, I discovered there is more than 1. Actually it is sort a tiered league system much like soccer in Europe. The teams in Fargo-Moorhead are like the Premier League. The last place team get relegated to play next year's tournament in the lower division. The champion of the lower division gets to play in the next higher division championship next year. Some nations plying the puck in the lower divisions include Mongolia, New Zealand, Turkey, Ireland, Mexico, and South Korea. I suspect Norway may get relegated to division I. Latvia and Belarus are coming up next year.

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