The IIHF is wrapping up this year’s tournament, with the pucks set to drop on the medal round.
Podnieks: Like the players, this tournament is a fantastic opportunity for the on-ice officials. This year features several who have previous IIHF experience. Consider that Olivier Gouin had the whistle for the gold-medal game of the 2018 World Championship between Sweden and Switzerland. Alexandre Garon reffed the 2017 U18 gold game, and Michael Campbell was in the bronze-medal game of last year’s World Juniors. They have had a steadying influence on the game, particularly in scrums after whistles. European refs don’t hesitate to call roughing minors in these situations, but the Canadians have been more forgiving.
Aykroyd: It’s been fine. There has been little comment on the officiating overall, which is exactly how it should be. Also, hockey has swung so much toward speed, skill, and puck possession. People are used to our game being called by the book. So you just don’t get those situations anymore where a Dion Phaneuf or Zack Kassian blows up a Czech forward with a hit that’s illegal under IIHF rules and gets the Don Cherry wannabes moaning about how Canada’s ostensible biggest advantage is being taken away. Canada is routinely among the least-penalized teams in IIHF competition nowadays, regardless of where the referees hail from.
Those Canadian officials will be heading into a very unique position: officiating a gold-medal game with Canada playing for the championship.
The medal round begins Tuesday, with the puck dropping on Russia vs. Finland for Bronze at 5:30 Eastern. Canada and the US will battle for Gold at 9:30.
Read more on IIHF.com, as Podnieks and Aykroyd also take teams and make their picks for this year’s champion.