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IIHF eliminates bye into semis at World Juniors, U-18s

The Canadian Press

5/29/2012 11:46:10 AM

ZURICH, Switzerland -- The semifinal bye at the world under-20 and under-18 men's hockey championships is about to be eliminated, although Canada will play one more world junior event with that wrinkle in place.

During a run of five straight gold medals at the world junior championship from 2005 to 2009, Canada earned the semifinal bye four times.

Under the format that has been in place since 2003, the top three teams in each preliminary-round pool advanced to playoffs. The fourth and fifth teams dropped to the relegation round. The second and third seeds in each pool played quarter-finals while the top seed got to skip the quarters and wait for the semifinal.

Now, the top four teams in each pool will all play in the quarter-finals, including the top seeds.

The new format will be implemented at the 2013 world under-18 men's championship in Sochi, Russia.

Because the schedule is already set for the world junior championship that starts Dec. 26 in Ufa, Russia, the new format won't be applied to that tournament until 2014 in Sweden. Canada, which took the bronze medal this year, is in a pool with Russia, the U.S., Germany and Slovakia in Ufa.

The new format doesn't change the number of games much. It will still be 31 games unless the relegation series is decided in just two contests instead of three.

The International Ice Hockey Federation made the decision to change the format at its annual congress earlier this month.