World Junior Hockey 2013 Previews, Schedule: They play games

Sweden looks to defend its crown, but 2012 hero Mika Zibanejad won't be there. - Richard Wolowicz

Get ready for the annual World Junior Hockey championship, the most exciting hockey you'll watch since -- and perhaps until -- June.

Just because the NHL has decided to implode doesn't mean there won't be hockey over the holidays: the annual World Junior Hockey Championship begins the day after Christmas and continues through the New Year.

Thanks to the NHL lockout, this year's tourney -- it's officially the 2013 version, for those recording at home -- features even higher caliber talent than usual, much of it concentrated in Team Canada's hands.

That of course includes top New York Islanders amateur prospects Ryan Strome and Griffin Reinhart, who at minimum would have been in Islanders training camp if the NHL were a hockey league instead of an association of lawyers and PR flacks fighting over access to fans' money. 2012 pick Ville Pokka -- who's having a good season but wouldn't have been in Islanders camp this year -- will also be in the tournament for Finland.

Despite Team Canada's lockout-enhanced strength, Russia is seen as a formidable contender, hosting the tournament on home ice in Ufa.

They're both in the same group -- a powerful group that includes the U.S., as well as Germany and Slovakia, who will fight for scraps.

The full schedule is posted below (via IIHF, though the times below are adjusted for Eastern time in North America). That means a lot of early mornings (or late nights) if you want to follow games live, though many North American broadcasts will be delayed to a more humane hour. TSN has extensive TV coverage in Canada, while the NHL Network in the U.S. will carry key games and U.S. games.

Round-Robin Groups and Previews

Around our network, Bruce Peter, founder of the international hockey blog Puck Worlds, will be part of plenty of coverage as results evolve. Check out previews and game stories at our World Junior Hockey 2013 hub here.

The two groups for the round-robin preliminary round (with links to previews and depth charts for each team):

Group A: Sweden | Finland | Czech Republic | Switzerland | Latvia

Group B: Russia | Canada | United States | Slovakia | Germany

Of course the big fish get the bulk of coverage, but you'll find interesting stories (and depth charts) about the underdogs in each of those country links above. (For example, star-starved Slovakia finally has two, except their both injured for the tourney.)

As the tournament marches on, we'll have periodic threads here, especially for the big games. It's not quite the NHL, but at least the games run on time.

Game Schedule

Preliminary Round (all times live Eastern, though many broadcasts will be delayed)

Wed, 26 Dec.

1

2:30 a.m. A

Sports Palace

Latvia

vs.

Finland

Wed, 26 Dec.

2

4:30 a.m. B

Ufa Arena

Germany

vs.

Canada

Wed, 26 Dec.

3

7:00 a.m. A

Sports Palace

Czech Rep.

vs.

Sweden

Wed, 26 Dec.

4

9:00 a.m. B

Ufa Arena

Slovakia

vs.

Russia

Thu, 27 Dec.

5

7:00 a.m. A

Sports Palace

Switzerland

vs.

Latvia

Thu, 27 Dec.

6

9:00 a.m. B

Ufa Arena

USA

vs.

Germany

Fri, 28 Dec.

7

2:30 a.m. A

Sports Palace

Finland

vs.

Czech Rep.

Fri, 28 Dec.

8

4:30 a.m. B

Ufa Arena

Canada

vs.

Slovakia

Fri, 28 Dec.

9

7:00 a.m. A

Sports Palace

Sweden

vs.

Switzerland

Fri, 28 Dec.

10

9:00 a.m. B

Ufa Arena

Russia

vs.

USA

Sat, 29 Dec.

11

7:00 a.m. A

Sports Palace

Latvia

vs.

Sweden

Sat, 29 Dec.

12

9:00 a.m. B

Ufa Arena

Germany

vs.

Russia

Sun, 30 Dec.

13

2:30 a.m. A

Sports Palace

Finland

vs.

Switzerland

Sun, 30 Dec.

14

4:30 a.m. B

Ufa Arena

Canada

vs.

USA

Sun, 30 Dec.

15

7:00 a.m. A

Sports Palace

Czech Rep.

vs.

Latvia

Sun, 30 Dec.

16

9:00 a.m. B

Ufa Arena

Slovakia

vs.

Germany

Mon, 31 Dec.

17

2:30 a.m. A

Sports Palace

Switzerland

vs.

Czech Rep.

Mon, 31 Dec.

18

5:00 a.m. B

Ufa Arena

USA

vs.

Slovakia

Mon, 31 Dec.

19

7:00 a.m. A

Sports Palace

Sweden

vs.

Finland

Mon, 31 Dec.

20

9:00 a.m. B

Ufa Arena

Russia

vs.

Canada

Relegation Round

Wed, 2 Jan.

22

6:00 a.m.

Sports Palace

4A

vs.

5B

Thu, 3 Jan.

25

6:00 a.m.

Sports Palace

4B

vs.

5A

Fri, 4 Jan.

27

4:00 a.m.

Sports Palace

5B

vs.

5A

Fri, 4 Jan.

28

8:00 a.m.

Sports Palace

4A

vs.

4B

Quarter-finals

Wed, 2 Jan.

21

4:00 a.m.

Ufa Arena

2A

vs.

3B

Wed, 2 Jan.

23

8:00 a.m.

Ufa Arena

2B

vs.

3A

Semi-finals

Thu, 3 Jan.

24

4:00 a.m.

Ufa Arena

1B

vs.

2A/3B

Thu, 3 Jan.

26

8:00 a.m.

Ufa Arena

1A

vs.

2B/3A

5th-place game

Fri, 4 Jan.

29

8:00 a.m.

Ufa Arena

Bronze-medal game

Sat, 5 Jan.

30

4:00 a.m.

Ufa Arena

Final

Sat, 5 Jan.

31

8:00 a.m.

Ufa Arena

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