Alternative History
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Qualification for the men's tournament at the 1998 Winter Olympics was determined by the standings of the 1995 IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships. The host along with the top eight teams at the 1995 World Championship received automatic berths into the Olympics, while all other teams had an opportunity to qualify for the remaining five spots in the Olympics.

Qualified teams

14 nations were qualified for the Olympic tournament, eight to the preliminary round, and six to the first round. The IIHF used the standings of the 1995 IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships to determine qualification. First, the top six nations from Pool A would go directly to the first round. The preliminary round was made up of the nations ranked seventh and eighth, along with the host Japan, and five others from a series of qualification tournaments. The nations ranked nine through 12 went straight to the final qualification round.

Date Location Vacancies Qualified
Host N/A N/A 1 Japan Japan
Ranked 1−8 at the
1995 IIHF World Championship
11 – 26 February 1995 Sweden Sweden 8 Canada Canada
Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia
Finland Finland
Italy
Norway Norway
Soviet Union Soviet Union
Sweden Sweden
United States United States
Final qualification tournament 6 – 9 February 1997 Switzerland 2 Switzerland
Latvia
Final qualification tournament 6 – 9 February 1997 Germany Germany 2 France
Germany Germany
Playoff game
for the last spot
11 February 1997 Germany Germany 1 Austria Austria
Total 14

Qualification seeding

To qualify directly, a nation had to be ranked in the top eight following the 1995 IIHF Men's World Ice Hockey Championships. Japan (ranked 18th) were automatically qualified as hosts. The nations ranked nine through 12 went straight to the final qualification round, while lower ranked teams were qualified for the preliminary qualification round.

No. Team Qualification
1 Finland Finland Directly qualified for the 1998 Winter Olympics
2 Sweden Sweden
3 Canada Canada
4 Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia
5 Soviet Union Soviet Union
6 United States United States
7 Norway Norway
8 Italy
9 Switzerland Final Olympic qualfication
10 France
11 Germany Germany
12 United Kingdom Great Britain
13 Latvia Latvia Preliminary qualification
14 Austria Austria
15 Poland
16 Netherlands
17 Denmark Denmark
Host Japan Directly qualified for the 1998 Winter Olympics
19 Yugoslavia Preliminary qualification
20 South Korea Republic of Korea
21 Hungary
22 Romania
23 China
24 Bulgaria Bulgaria
25 Australia
26 Spain Spain
27 Belgium Belgium Preliminary qualification
28 South Africa South Africa
29 Estonia Estonia Preliminary qualification
30 Lithuania Lithuania
31 Iran
32 Israel Israel
33 Greece
34 New Zealand New Zealand
35 Luxembourg
36 Turkey Turkey

Schedule

Date Stage
26 – 28 January 1996 First round
27 August – 1 September 1996 Asian Winter Games
(Asian preliminary qualification tournament)
27 August – 1 September 1996 Second round of qualification tournaments
17 December – 22 December 1996 Final round of qualification tournaments
2 February 1997 Play-off game for final spot

First round

Two games were played on 30 January and 23 March 1996 to determine the final spot in the second round. Greece beat Israel 10–2, but forfeited the result because of an ineligible player. Following that, in March of the same year Israel played Belgium, in the Netherlands, losing 5–3. Israel's loss is officially a 5–0 loss, the match was declared forfeit because they used ineligible players from Russia.

30 January 1996 Israel 5 – 0*
(1–5, 1–4, 0–1)
Greece Canada Center Metula, Metula
23 March 1996 Belgium Belgium 5 – 0*
(2–1, 0–2, 3–0)
Lithuania Lithuania Ijssportcentrum Eindhoven, Eindhoven


Second round

Three round robins were played from 27 August to 1 September 1996. The teams seeded 13th, 14th, and 15th reserved the right to host these tournaments. The top two seeded group winners qualified for the final qualification tournaments.

Group A

The Group A tournament was played at the Rīgas Sporta Pils in Riga, Latvia.

Team GP W T L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
Latvia Latvia 3 3 0 0 52 2 +50 6 Final qualification
Hungary 3 2 0 1 18 18 0 4
Estonia Estonia 3 1 0 2 13 25 –12 2
Lithuania Lithuania 3 0 0 3 7 45 –38 0


All times are local (UTC+2).

29 August 1996 Hungary 7 – 4
(3–0, 2–1, 2–3)
Estonia Estonia Rīgas Sporta Pils, Riga
29 August 1996 Latvia Latvia 27 – 0
(10–0, 8–0, 9–0)
Lithuania Lithuania Rīgas Sporta Pils, Riga

31 August 1996 Hungary 9 – 4
(3–2, 2–0, 4–2)
Lithuania Lithuania Rīgas Sporta Pils, Riga
31 August 1996 Estonia Estonia 0 – 15
(0–3, 0–7, 0–5)
Latvia Latvia Rīgas Sporta Pils, Riga

1 September 1996 Lithuania Lithuania 3 – 9
(0–2, 2–1, 1–6)
Estonia Estonia Rīgas Sporta Pils, Riga
1 September 1996 Latvia Latvia 10 – 2
(4–1, 2–1, 4–0)
Hungary Rīgas Sporta Pils, Riga

Group B

The Group B tournament was played at the Olympiahalle in Innsbruck, Austria.

Team GP W T L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
Austria Austria 3 2 1 0 11 4 +7 5 Final qualification
Denmark Denmark 3 2 1 0 9 2 +7 5
Netherlands 3 1 0 2 6 10 –4 2
Belgium Belgium 3 0 0 3 6 15 –9 0


All times are local (UTC+1).

29 August 1996 Austria Austria 4 – 1
(2–0, 2–1, 0–0)
Netherlands Olympiahalle, Innsbruck
29 August 1996 Denmark Denmark 4 – 2
(0–1, 4–0, 0–1)
Belgium Belgium Olympiahalle, Innsbruck

31 August 1996 Denmark Denmark 4 – 0
(0–0, 3–0, 1–0)
Netherlands Olympiahalle, Innsbruck
31 August 1996 Belgium Belgium 2 – 6
(0–2, 1–3, 1–1)
Austria Austria Olympiahalle, Innsbruck

1 September 1996 Netherlands 5 – 2
(2–0, 1–1, 2–1)
Belgium Belgium Olympiahalle, Innsbruck
1 September 1996 Austria Austria 1 – 1
(1–0, 0–0, 0–1)
Denmark Denmark Olympiahalle, Innsbruck

Group C

The Group C tournament was played at the Stadion Zimowy in Tychy, Poland.

Team GP W T L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
Poland 3 3 0 0 23 5 +18 6 Final qualification
Yugoslavia 3 2 0 1 15 9 +6 4
Romania 3 1 0 2 12 12 0 2
Bulgaria Bulgaria 3 0 0 3 6 30 –24 0


All times are local (UTC+1).

29 August 1996 Yugoslavia 4 – 2
(1–0, 2–1, 1–1)
Romania Stadion Zimowy, Tychy
29 August 1996 Poland 14 – 0
(5–0, 5–0, 4–0)
Bulgaria Bulgaria Stadion Zimowy, Tychy

31 August 1996 Yugoslavia 9 – 4
(2–1, 3–2, 4–1)
Bulgaria Bulgaria Stadion Zimowy, Tychy
31 August 1996 Romania 3 – 6
(1–0, 1–4, 1–2)
Poland Stadion Zimowy, Tychy

1 September 1996 Bulgaria Bulgaria 2 – 7
(0–0, 0–3, 2–4)
Romania Stadion Zimowy, Tychy
1 September 1996 Poland 3 – 2
(0–1, 2–1, 1–0)
Yugoslavia Stadion Zimowy, Tychy

Group D

Team GP W T L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
Japan 2 2 0 0 13 2 +11 4 Qualified as hosts
China 2 1 0 1 7 9 –2 2 Final qualification
South Korea 2 0 0 2 3 12 –9 0

The Asian Winter Games were used as a qualifying tournament, and were played in Harbin, China, from 5 to 8 February 1996. Japan participated though already qualified for the Olympics.

All times are local (UTC+8).

5 February 1996 China 6 – 2
(2–2, 1–0, 3–0)
South Korea South Korea Kunlun Arena, Harbin

6 February 1996 Japan 6 – 1
(1–0, 3–0, 2–1)
South Korea South Korea Kunlun Arena, Harbin

8 February 1996 China 1 – 7
(0–1, 0–1, 1–5)
Japan Kunlun Arena, Harbin

Final Olympic qualfication

Group A

Olympic qualification
Group A
Tournament details
Host country Switzerland
Dates 19 – 22 December 1996
Teams 4
Venue(s) (in 1 host city)
Final positions
Qualified Latvia Latvia
Switzerland
Tournament statistics
Matches played 6

The Group A tournament was played at the Schluefweg in Kloten, Switzerland.

Team GP W T L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
Latvia Latvia 3 2 1 0 20 7 +13 5 Qualified for the 1998 Winter Olympics
Switzerland 3 1 2 0 12 5 +7 4
United Kingdom Great Britain 3 1 1 1 16 11 +5 3 Playoff for last Olympic spot
China 3 0 0 3 4 29 –25 0

All times are local (UTC+1).


19 December 1996
16:00
Great Britain United Kingdom 3 – 3
(2–2, 1–1, 0–0)
Switzerland Schluefweg, Kloten
Attendance: 3,979
19 December 1996
19:30
Latvia Latvia 13 – 1
(3–1, 6–0, 4–0)
China Schluefweg, Kloten
Attendance: 1,440

21 December 1996
16:00
China 1 – 8
(0–4, 1–2, 0–2)
Switzerland Schluefweg, Kloten
21 December 1996
19:30
Latvia 6 – 5
(1–1, 4–4, 1–0)
United Kingdom Great Britain Schluefweg, Kloten

22 December 1996
16:00
Great Britain United Kingdom 8 – 2
(3–1, 4–1, 1–0)
China Schluefweg, Kloten
22 December 1996
19:30
Switzerland 1 – 1
(0–0, 1–0, 0–1)
Latvia Schluefweg, Kloten

Group B

Olympic qualification
Group B
Tournament details
Host country Germany Germany
Dates 19 – 22 December 1996
Teams 4
Venue(s) (in 1 host city)
Final positions
Qualified Germany Germany
Austria Austria
Tournament statistics
Matches played 6
Goals scored 38 (6.33 per match)
Attendance 17,701 (2,950 per match)
Scoring leader(s) Germany Bradley Bergen
(6 points)

The Group A tournament was played at the Arena Oberhausen in Oberhausen, Germany.

Team GP W T L GF GA GD Pts Qualification
Germany Germany 3 2 1 0 11 8 +3 5 Qualified for the 1998 Winter Olympics
Austria Austria 3 1 1 1 9 7 +2 3
France France 3 0 2 1 9 11 –2 2 A Playoff for last Olympic spot
Poland 3 0 2 1 9 12 –3 2 A

A France –2 GD, Poland –3 GD.


All times are local (UTC+1).

19 December 1996
16:00
Austria Austria 3 – 3
(1–1, 1–2, 1–0)
France France Arena Oberhausen, Oberhausen
Attendance: 1,620
19 December 1996
19:30
Germany Germany 4 – 4
(0–0, 2–2, 2–2)
Poland Arena Oberhausen, Oberhausen
Attendance: 3,100

21 December 1996
16:00
Austria Austria 4 – 1
(2–0, 1–0, 1–1)
Poland Arena Oberhausen, Oberhausen
Attendance: 1,104
21 December 1996
19:30
France France 2 – 4
(2–1, 1–0, 1–0)
Germany Germany Arena Oberhausen, Oberhausen
Attendance: 4,552

22 December 1996
13:10
Poland 4 – 4
(1–1, 2–3, 1–0)
France France Arena Oberhausen, Oberhausen
Attendance: 1,100
22 December 1996
17:10
Germany Germany 3 – 2
(1–0, 1–1, 1–1)
Austria Austria Arena Oberhausen, Oberhausen
Attendance: 6,225

Playoff for last Olympic spot

Time is local (UTC+1).

19 December 1996
19:00
France France 2 – 0
(0–0, 1–0, 1–0)
United Kingdom Great Britain Eissporthalle Duisburg, Duisburg

Final standings

The final standings of the Olympic qualification according to the IIHF:

15 Poland
16 United Kingdom Great Britain
17 China
18 Denmark Denmark
19 Yugoslavia
20 Hungary
21 Romania
22 Netherlands
23 Estonia
24 South Korea South Korea
25 Belgium Belgium
26 Bulgaria Bulgaria
27 Lithuania Lithuania

See also

Ice hockey at the Olympics

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