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2016 World Cup of Hockey groups, schedule released

Here's the schedule for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

The World Cup of Hockey is coming back.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, NHL Players' Association executive director Don Fehr and several players attended a news conference Wednesday to promote the World Cup of Hockey, which hasn't been held since 2004. The eight-team tournament is planned for Sept. 17 to Oct. 1 of next year at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto.

The 2016 World Cup will feature national teams from Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic, along with a squad chosen from among the NHL’s top North American players who are 23 and under. The final team will feature players from European countries that are not represented, such as Switzerland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Norway, Austria, Latvia and Denmark.

Each roster will consist of 23 players, including three goaltenders.

Sixteen players must be named to the rosters by March 1, 2016. Those rosters have to be submitted by June 1.

Teams in the World Cup will be divided into two groups of four, with each playing three games within its group. The top two finishers in each group will then play in the semifinals, with the winners advancing to a best-of-three championship round. Group A includes Canada, Czech Republic, Team USA and Team Europe. Group B includes Finland, Russia, Sweden and Team North America, which is the U-23 team.

Here's the complete schedule for the games, which will signal the return of hockey to ESPN for the first time in years:

Preliminary Round (Round Robin)

Saturday, Sept. 17

Team Europe vs. Team USA, 3:30 p.m.
Team Canada vs. Team Czech Republic, 8 p.m.

Sunday, Sept. 18

Team Russia vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m.
Team Finland vs. Team North America, 8 p.m.

Monday, Sept. 19

Team Czech Republic vs. Team Europe, 3 p.m.
Team North America vs. Team Russia, 8 p.m.

Tuesday, Sept. 20

Team Finland vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m.
Team Canada vs. Team USA, 8 p.m.

Wednesday, Sept. 21

Team North America vs. Team Sweden, 3 p.m.
Team Canada vs. Team Europe, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 22

Team Finland vs. Team Russia, 3 p.m.
Team Czech Republic vs. Team USA, 8 p.m.

Semifinals (Single Elimination; A1 vs. B2, B1 vs. A2)

Saturday, Sept. 24

Semifinal 1, TBD

Sunday, Sept. 25

Semifinal 2, TBD

Final (Best of Three)

Tuesday, Sept. 27

Final Game 1, 8 p.m.

Thursday, Sept. 29

Final Game 2, 8 p.m.

Saturday, Oct. 1

Final Game 3, 7 p.m. (if necessary)