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The 2017 International Ice Hockey Federation Women's World Championship begins this Friday, March 31 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan. A majority of games will be played on the arena's NHL-sized main rink, though three preliminary-round games and the 5th/6th-place match will be held on the Olympic-sized secondary rink. The round-robin preliminary round games run through through Monday, April 3, with the quarterfinals and relegation round starting on Tuesday, April 4, and running through the bronze- and gold-medal games on Friday, April 7.

Current and former Gophers in the World Championship – Three members of the 2016-2017 Gopher women's hockey team will be playing in the tournament, as senior Lee Stecklein and junior Kelly Pannek will be suiting up for Team USA, while sophomore Sarah Potomak will be participating with Team Canada. Seven Gopher alumnae are also playing with their respective national teams – Megan Bozek, Hannah Brandt, Amanda Kessel, and Gigi Mavin are on the American roster, Sarah Davis is representing Canada, and Mira Jalosuo and Noora Räty are playing on Team Finland. As mentioned above, rivals USA and Canada will open Pool A play on Friday at 7:30 p.m. ET/6:30 p.m. CT. Finland will face Russia in the first game held on the secondary rink, Friday at 4:00 p.m. ET/3:00 p.m. CT.

Tournament format – The top four teams in the tournament – Canada, Finland, Russia, and USA – comprise Pool A. The next four teams – Czech Republic, Germany, Sweden, and Switzerland – make up Pool B. Following the round-robin pool play, the bottom two teams in Pool A will play the top two in Pool B in the quarterfinals; meanwhile, the top two teams in Pool A get a first-round bye and will await the quarterfinal winners. The bottom two teams in Pool B will play a best-2-of-3 relegation series to see which remains in the 2019 World Championship. (The Division I, Group A tournament to determine which team will be promoted to the World Championship top division begins April 15 in Graz, Austria.)

Coverage – U.S. National Team games will be shown on NHL Network (check with your television provider for availability) on a live or tape-delayed basis, and also live-streamed on NHL.com; see the press release on teamusa.usahockey.com for details. USA Hockey is hosting a tournament website at www.2017womensworlds.com, while the official IIHF tournament website is www.worldwomen2017.com; both will have a variety of news and game recaps, and the IIHF site will have live stats from every game. Hockey Canada has set up a "Schedule and Scores" page on hockeycanada.ca that also has links to live video streaming of other (non-U.S.) tournament games (though stream availability in the U.S. is unknown); additional details of their team's games will be posted at www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/Team-Canada/Women/National/2016-17.