LAST YEAR: 1st in IIHF World Championship Division 2 Group A
COACH: Chris Eimers

As the countdown to the historic World Championship Division 1 Group B in Belfast begins, we take a look at the six teams who will play in the first men’s World Championship in the UK for 25 years, starting with The Netherlands…

Netherlands arrive in Belfast following their gold-medal success last year in Division 2 Group A in Spain after suffering their first relegation in 17 years when they went down in 2015 on home ice.

A 3-2 win over Serbia began last year’s gold-medal bid on a high for Netherlands, before a 3-2 victory over Spain put them in the driving seat.

Netherlands beat Iceland 3-0 to keep up their winning streak and then demolished China 9-0, which meant victory against Belgium on the final day would secure an immediate return to the third tier. 

They saw off Belgium with ease by winning 6-2, while Spain’s final-day 5-2 win over Iceland secured them the silver medal.

Their drop down to the third tier was a far cry from the early 80s when they reached the Olympic Games in 1980 and the top-level World Championship in 1981.

In the Winter Olympics in 1980 in New York they finished in ninth place. The Netherlands, who competed in the Red Division group, had a record of 1–3–1.

They lost to Canada (10–1), lost to the Soviet Union (17–4), tied Japan (3–3), beat Poland (5–3) and lost to Finland (10–3).

An eighth-placed finish in the 1981 World Championship in Sweden followed as they equalled their best performance in the top flight, originally set in 1950 in London, when matches were played in Wembley Arena, Empress Hall and Harringay.

The rebuilding process has begun for Netherlands and although they are yet to decide on their final roster, it’s clear a young squad will be in Belfast.

Photo credit: Colin Lawson.