Czechia in the grip of hockey mania

The 2024 Ice Hockey World Championships are well underway in the Czech cities of Prague and Ostrava. The tournament, which brings together teams representing 16 nations, is held annually in alternating host cities. As the group stage of the tournament winds down, excited fans are anticipating who will play who in the quarterfinal matches in what has already been a competitive tournament. Here’s a quick rap up of what’s been going on.

Czechia trails Canada in Group A

Photo: Zuzana Jarolímková,

Czechia is currently second in the Group A division, with a total of 15 points, trailing behind Canada who has 17. Czechia has only lost one game to the Swiss in overtime, with the game ending in penalty shots. But the Czechs could be carrying powerful new arsenal. Now that the Boston Bruins have been eliminated from the NHL playoffs, right winger David Pastrňák and left winger Pavel Zacha have returned to Prague and will be dressing for the national team. Martin Nečas from the Carolina Hurricanes has also reunited with his national teammates. Together, the three new additions to the Czech squad could prove to be a powerful advantage.

Sold out arenas and potential for record breaking attendance

When Czechia hosted the championship last in 2015 attendance records were smashed, with over 741,000 spectators. This year, over the course of the first nine days of the championship, the IIHF has reported 610,873 fans that have flocked to the games in Prague and Ostrava. If the trend continues, this year’s championship could attract over 800,000 people, breaking the 2015 record.

Hockey buzz in the city

Austrians dressed in Mozart costumes, Fins with their faces painted blue, fans from Great Britain rocking Union Jack tuxedos – those are just some of the sights you can see when taking a stroll through Prague right now. The city has quickly transformed into a hockey lovers heaven, with fans proudly wearing their country’s merchandise and jerseys while wandering round the city.

Locals have even reported seeing hockey players around the city being tourists, shopping at grocery stores, and working out at local gyms. If you’re looking to bump into a hockey player, you might only need to look up from your phone screen on the tram or metro, as one fan spotted team Canada star Connor Bedard taking a ride on Prague’s public transportation.

Prague councillors have also announced plans to place large screens in Old Town Square for fans to gather and watch the hockey games together. The screens will be present if Czechia reaches the semi-finals, finals, or plays for a bronze medal.

Czechia and Canada to face off this afternoon

To end the group stages of the tournament, Czechia will face off this afternoon against the reigning tournament champions, team Canada, the match being one of the most highly anticipated in the championship. The last time the two teams faced off was in last year’s tournament in Riga, where the Canadians beat the Czechs 3-1 at the end of the group stage.