Harri Pesonen (FIN), right, smiles after scoring during the Euro Hockey Challenge match Czech Republic vs Finland, Brno, Czech Republic, May 4, 2023. LEHTIKUVA


Last spring was a celebratory time for all Finnish Lions fans. First came the Olympic gold from Beijing, followed by the World Cup championship. The Olympic gold was the first for the Lions, while they have now won the World Cup four times: in 1995, 2011, 2019, and 2022. The last championship was celebrated in Tampere last spring, and this year the Lions get to chase the trophy again on home ice. The World Championships will be held this year in Tampere, Finland, and Riga, Latvia.

What do the odds look like for the tournament?

The World Championships is an exciting time for bettors as well. Betting starts before the tournament, with bets placed on the eventual winner. Many bettors check the ice hockey World Championship odds well in advance to find overrated teams or to support their favourite team. Finland has performed so well in recent years that betting on them yields relatively low odds. The Finnish team has remained consistently strong, with stability in coaching and the home tournament naturally inspiring Finnish players to excel.

There is added excitement in the World Championships for those who have already placed bets on the winner. Odds will fluctuate throughout the tournament, but it's interesting to follow the competition while remembering your own bets.

Can any country surprise?

Finland, Sweden, Canada, and the United States are once again the biggest favourites this year. Russia is not allowed to participate, but is there a country that could surprise and take it all this year? Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, and Germany are potential contenders.

Slovakia and the Czech Republic were very strong hockey nations ten years ago, but both have been awaiting a resurgence. This resurgence may have started last year, with both countries raising their profiles and defeating major hockey powers. They can offer bettors better odds, as many still do not believe these countries can win the entire tournament.

Switzerland and Germany are now also very strong "on paper." Switzerland has been successful for a long time in youth World Championships, and it was only a matter of time before that success translated to the adult level. Switzerland has already reached the finals, but the top prize remains elusive. Could 2023 be their year of harvest? Betting on Switzerland offers interesting opportunities. Germany is also a potential medal contender, offering attractive odds for bettors.

What to watch for?

Ice hockey's popularity as a betting target is strong in Finland, and betting heats up during the World Championships. One of the most important factors to consider is team rosters. Injuries or illnesses among key players can significantly affect a team's performance and cause surprising results. Goalies, as the most important players on the ice, have a huge impact on both team confidence and success.

Another important factor in ice hockey betting is the game venue. The home team often has an advantage and better chances of winning. In prestigious tournaments like the World Championships, home-field advantage can be a decisive factor in a team's success, and Tampere is sure to be packed and noisy this year.

The experience and tactics of team coaches are also important factors in betting. A good coach can choose the right game strategy and make necessary adjustments during the game, leading their team to victory. Jalonen has already guided Finland to four gold medals, so Finnish coaching is not giving any ground to other countries. The tournament will once again offer top-notch entertainment, and the home games create a unique atmosphere.