The IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A gets under way today at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.

It’s one of the most prestigious ice hockey events ever to be held in the UK as Great Britain plays host to Italy, Korea, Lithuania, Poland and Romania in the six-team group.

The teams finishing first and second in the group will be promoted to play in the 2024 top-level World Championship in Prague and Ostrava in Czechia.

Top seeds Italy are ranked 17 in the world and like GB were relegated from the top division last season, having played in the top division since 2019.  Italy are coached by former NHL bench boss ‘Iron’ Mike Keenan, who coached New York Rangers to the Stanley Cup in 1994.

Lithuania are ranked 23 in the IIHF and third in the tournament.  They warmed-up with games against Estonia and Ukraine and have former EPL forward Mindaugas Kieras as an assistant coach.

Fourth seed Korea sit at 21 in the world rankings and are GB’s opening-night opponent.  The number 87 will feature heavily around the Korean camp as they remember long-time national team player Minho Cho, who passed away from cancer in October 2022. Saturday in Nottingham will be their first IIHF match without their number 87 and a tribute will be paid before face-off.

Poland, perennial Division 1 competitors, sit at fifth seed and 22 in the world. They are GB’s opponent on Sunday afternoon.  Their pre-tournament preparation included games with Latvia and Slovenia. Forward Patryk Wronka previously played in the UK with Belfast Giants, while defender Pawel Dronia won DEL2 playoffs this week under coach Pete Russell.

The sixth seeds are Romania, the world ranked number 24.  They won Division 1B in 2019 and have held their own in this division in the campaigns since.  Their president has declared these games in Nottingham as “David versus Goliath match-ups”.

Finally, to the hosts, Great Britain.  They come into the event second seeds behind Italy, and ranked 18th in the world. They last played in Division 1A in 2018 when famously Robert Farmer scored with 15.9 seconds left against Hungary to give GB the point they needed to secure gold and promotion to the top flight. After four warm-up games in the past week, two each versus Latvia and Hungary, Great Britain trimmed their training squad to the final 23 names for the tournament.

It’s the highest level of ice hockey hosted in the UK for a generation and we look forward to sharing the experience with hockey fans from around the UK and around the world.  The puck drops this afternoon on the first of 15 games in seven days with the prize of top flight competition next season on the line.

IIHF World Championship Division I Group A schedule

Saturday 29th April 
Poland v Lithuania – 12:30
Romania v Italy – 16:00
Korea v Great Britain – 19:30

Sunday 30th April 
Lithuania v Romania – 12:30
Great Britain v Poland – 16:00
Italy v Korea – 19:30

Tuesday 2nd May
Romania v Korea – 12:30
Italy v Poland – 16:00
Great Britain v Lithuania – 19:30

Wednesday 3rd May 
Korea v Poland – 12:30
Lithuania v Italy – 16:00
Great Britain v Romania – 19:30

Friday 5th May
Poland v Romania – 12:30
Lithuania v Korea – 16:00
Italy v Great Britain – 19:30