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Six Teams Get Head Start in Race for Gold

September 24, 1997|HELENE ELLIOTT

How the Olympic hockey tournament will work:

Eight teams will compete for Olympic medals at Nagano, Japan. The United States, Canada, Sweden, Finland, Russia and the Czech Republic are guaranteed berths in the championship round. The two other teams will be determined in a preliminary round to begin Feb. 7.

The winner of preliminary Group A--including Italy, Austria, Slovakia and Kazakhstan--and the winner of preliminary Group B--including France, Germany, Japan and Belarus--will advance to the championship round beginning Feb. 13.

The U.S., Sweden, Canada and the winner of preliminary Group A will be in Group A in the final round. Russia, Finland, the Czech Republic and the preliminary Group B winner will be in Group B. The gold-medal game will be played Feb. 22.

NHL players will be scattered throughout the field, since 22.3% of the players on opening-night rosters last season were born outside North America.

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