June 2nd officially begins the 2013 IIHF Inline Hockey World Championships in Dresden, Germany. Eight teams in the A-Pool are set to compete in a tournament consisting of two groups. Following round robin play, tournament play will begin and Canada will look to bring home back to back World Championship gold.
Group A will consist of Slovenia, Slovakia, Canada and the USA.
The United States went 3-0 in group play last year, defeating Germany, Slovenia, and Canada, but were bounced in the quarterfinals by Finland. They hope to rebound in 2013 and earn a trip to medal play.
Slovenia can be dangerous, as they proved last year by defeating Canada in overtime. They were defeated by the U.S., but kept it close while losing 5-4.
Slovakia is a newcomer to the A-Pool this season, taking the place of Great Britain who failed to qualify and will play in the B-Pool.
After winning gold last year, Canada remains a favorite in the tournament. The always strong Canadian team had a win, a loss and an overtime loss in round robin play last year, but brought their game during in the medal round.
Group B features last years silver medalists, and host country, Germany. Germany was less impressive in pool play last year, finishing 1-2, but won games when it counted and made a trip to the finals.
Finland also landed in Group B, and took home a bronze medal after defeating Slovenia in 2012.
Rounding out the group are Sweden and the Czech Republic. Both teams are always dangerous, and the Czech team will feature NHL star Ales Hemsky. Sweden played well in round robin play last year, defeating Finland and Great Britain, but lost to the Czech Republic. The Czech team defeated Great Britain in overtime last year, but lost to Finland in round robin play.
While the event is exciting for fans, and full of fast paced hockey, it can often be a struggle for teams to make it to the World Championships with trips being paid out of pocket. In fact, Hockey Canada offers no support for their team, and the players selected can pay around $3,000 for a chance to compete for a medal.
All games are available to stream online during the tournament. Play begins at 8am eastern time on June 2nd, and the medal games will take place on June 8th. To watch the games online, check out http://inlinewm.de/index_en.php?nav=livestream