Mexico City fans didn't quite turn out for the opener of the IIHF U20 Division 3 Championships the way the organizers had hoped, with only 3000 spectators listed for the outdoor game in Zocalo square, but the crowds were pretty solid for the home team's games. The team's performance probably helped, as Mexico never really hit a rough patch in earning promotion to Division 2B next year. Serbia also earned promotion as the two teams dominated en route to meeting in the final game Tuesday night. It was a packed house of about 3000 at Lomas Verdes Rink, literally standing room only with fans lined up along the empty sections around the boards. And they went home happy, with the home side controlling the often times chippy game from the start for a 4-2 victory.
Now, the 2011 IIHF U20 World Junior Hockey Championships are officially complete. It'll be a couple of months before we find out the hosts of the various events, and we'll need an official vote to confirm the change to a more competitive tiered format. That vote won't happen until May at the Men's World Championships. I've recapped the placement of the Championship level here, and the Division 1 and 2 level here, so here's a quick rundown of Division 3:
After the jump, I have the updated U20 Men's World Ranking. This isn't my "Junior Hockey Program World Ranking" you see on the side, that includes the U18 results with equal value. This is strictly for the U20 level:
|20||Great Britain||16||24||26||22||1800||Division 1A||+5|
|26||The Netherlands||26||26||28||25||1535||Division 2A||+1|
|28||South Korea||28||29||27||27||1450||Division 2A||-|
|37||New Zealand||39||38||DNP||35||755||Division 3||-|
|39||North Korea||37||37||DNP||DNP||700||Division 3||+1|
|41||Chinese Taipei||41||39||DNP||DNP||590||Division 3||-|
The points system goes as follows: 1200 points for 1st, 1160 for 2nd, 1120 for 3rd, 1100 for 4th, 1060 for 5th, 1040 for 6th, 1000 for 7th and then down by 20 points each until you hit 320 for 41st. The most recent year is worth full value, 2010 is worth 75%, 2009 is worth 50%, and 2008 is worth 25%. That's approximately how the IIHF does it for the Men's and Women's Ranking, so I've applied it here for the U20 tournaments.
Russia's rise to gold has moved them past Sweden on the rankings, but not quite past the 2010 Champions in the USA, who moved ahead of Sweden with their win in the bronze medal game. Canada retains the top spot, as always making the Final will tend to do that. The Swiss surpass the Czechs and Slovaks to become the 6th most successful nation at this level, while Norway gets a nice bump from a rare appearance at the top level. The biggest mover in either direction is Great Britain, who rode the hot goaltending of Ben Bowns to place eight places higher than the previous year, bumping them upwards five spots in total to crack the top twenty. Hungary was the biggest loser this year, as they have struggled to escape Division 2 as their time as a solid Division 1 team is fading.
You may notice that there are a lot of DNP's near the bottom of the 2009 column, and that is because the U20s were cancelled that year. Another notable quirk is China, who were actually relegated in 2008, but got back in the Division 2 level in 2009 because New Zealand, who had won the Division 3 tournament the year prior, decided not to send their team due to budget concerns. So China's demotion to Division 3 is long overdue, having escaped it twice before.
We've had two years of the same 41 countries participating, and hopefully all 41 will be back next year. The Division 3 level is probably two or three countries away from expanding to a 3A/3B format, but there seems to be little interest in doing that at this time.