With the IIHF World Championships about to begin, including the Division 1 and Division 2 tournaments, the betting markets are beginning to take shape as punters start to scrutinise the chances of the favourites in all competitions.
The World Championship tournament starts on May 4 in Denmark, with the sixteen qualifying nations divided into two pools. Top seed in Group A is Russia, currently the world’s number 2 ranked nation, and they will be up against Sweden (3), Czech Republic (6), Switzerland (7), Belarus (10), Slovakia (11), France1 (13) and Austria (16).
Canada, currently ranked number 1 in the world, are the Group B top seed, and they’ll be facing off against Finland (4), United States (5), Germany (8), Norway (9), Latvia (12), Denmark1 (14) and South Korea (21).
The online bookies at this stage concur with the IIHF seedings for the tournament, with Canada currently installed as favourites with all the major bookmakers. The best price you can get on Canada at this stage on the outright markets is 6-4 with Betway, with the next best price 7-5 at PaddyPower, or 13-10 at Bet365.
Russia is the second favourite with a price of 3-1 across all the major sports books, along with Sweden (although you can get 10-3 on Sweden at PaddyPower), with Finland in the reckoning to take the title at around 8-1. If you are looking to find some value and take a punt on a side outside the top 4, or to make an accumulator bet, the UK sports betting review portal PlayRight is featuring ice hockey specials from a number of leading UK sports books with a range of outright win markets of offer for all three tournaments.
However, in ice hockey betting, the match and in-play markets tend to be where there is the best value. The major betting sites are all offering a great range of betting markets on every game in the IIHF World Championships (including Great Britain’s matches in Division 1A). But it’s not only the super brands like Bet365 and Paddy Power that have got good in-play coverage, with the tier 2 and 3 sites also offering good in-play betting. Genting Sports is one example of a tier 3 betting site with good in-play whilst this Grosvenor Sport Review highlights how you can bet live and on individual matches across the entire tournament, including games in Divisions 1 and 2.
For instance, you can get outright winner odds on regular time results, as well as the overtime and penalty shoot out final scores. Most betting sites will also offer you a Double Chance bet, where you can punt on a team winning plus the draw in the same bet. You can also bet on the total number of goals scored in a match, as well as handicap bets (over/under), 3-way handicap bets, the correct score at the end of regular time, as well as the winning method. Other match events you can bet on include either the home or away team winning without conceding a goal.
You can also make bets on each separate period in a match, including the total number of goals scored in a period, the correct score at the end of it, and on both teams to score during the period. Alternative puck line betting is another popular form of punting on ice hockey matches that you will be find being offered on most matches in the tournament — this is a variety of spread betting but which uniquely has a standard handicap of 1.5+.
All of the major sports books, Bet365, PaddyPower and Betway etc, will also be offering live and in-play markets on all matches across all divisions of the tournament. One of the advantages of the getting into the in-play betting markets is that the odds on offer change as the state of the match fluctuates. This makes betting in-play on ice hockey a great way of staying engaged in a game, plus there can often be good value to be had when a fancied team falls behind or there is a surprise scorer.
Division 1A Tournament
Great Britain is playing in the Division 1A tournament, with Pete Russells’s team facing off against Hungary, Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland and Slovenia in Budapest from 22 April. Slovenia and Italy have come down to Division 1A after finishing in 15th and 16th places respectively in the 2017 World Championships, with Great Britain earning its place after winning the Division 1B tournament last year. Hungary, who finished fifth in Division 1A in 2017, automatically qualify as the hosts.
However, it’s probably fair to say that the bookmakers don’t overly fancy Great Britain’s chances of winning the tournament, as the best price you get on the team being outright winners is 13-1 at Grosvenor Sports. Slovenia is the pre-tournament favourite at 6-4, with Kazakhstan at 2-1 and Italy priced at 5-2 also in the bookies’ reckoning.
For each match in Division 1A, there is a huge range of markets on offer, including correct score, total goals scored, winning margin, alternative puck line, the highest scoring period, the time of the first score, and whether the game will go to a shoot out. You can also bet live and in-play on all of Great Britain’s games.
The Division 1B tournament, also starting on 22 April, is being played in Lithuania, and will feature Ukraine, Japan, Estonia, Croatia and Romania, along with the hosts. Japan and Ukraine are the favourites at 5-4 with Grosvenor Sport, with Lithuania also considered to be a chance at pre-tournament odds of 5-2.
Division 2 Tournament
The Division 2A tournament, which is being played in the Netherlands from 23-29 April, will feature the host nation along with Australia, Serbia, Belgium, Iceland and China. The Division 2B tournament, which was recently completed in Spain, was won by the hosts who will now play in Division 2A in 2019, with Luxembourg relegated to Division 3. Georgia, who won this year’s Division 3 Championship, will take Luxembourg’s place in Division 2B in 2019.
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