By Gary Anderson

A new ice sledge hockey World Series is set to be launched later this year ©Getty Images International Paralympic Committee (IPC) Ice Sledge Hockey has announced plans to launch a World Series later this year that will see nations from both the A and B pools competing against each other for end-of-season ranking points.

The new series aims to bring together matches that currently take place between countries as well incorporate new fixtures in order to formalise a competition calendar.

It is also hoped the move will provide the sport, teams and athletes with more exposure ahead of the World Championships A-Pool scheduled for Buffalo, in the United States from April 24 to May 2 next year.

National Paralympic Committees and teams have been invited to submit their A-Pool and B-Pool fixtures to be part of the World Series.

Teams from both pools will play against each other and the points adjusted accordingly.

Canada, the United States, Russia, Czech Republic, Norway, Italy, Japan and Germany - the best eight ice sledge hockey nations in the world - currently compete in the World Championships A-Pool.

The B-Pool of nations, consisting of South Korea, Sweden, Great Britain, Estonia, Slovakia and Poland take part in a separate World Championships held in the same year as the A-Pool.

"This is a huge move for the sport in bringing together the wide variety of competitions that already take place to further develop the competition calendar, as well as a future marketing opportunity to take it to the next level," said chairperson of the IPC Ice Sledge Hockey Sport Technical Committee, Keith Blase.

"It is a chance to further professionalise the game as a whole new structure will be built around the World Series in terms of officiating and results.

"We want to make it easier for existing fans and media to follow their national teams and favourite players as well as attract whole new generations of fans to the ice."

The new World Series will see teams from both the A and B-Pool Championships competing against each other for ranking points ©Getty Images The new World Series will see teams from both the A and B-Pool Championships competing against each other for ranking points ©Getty Images

In addition, at the end of the season, awards will be given for top scorer and best goaltender and the sport's Technical Committee will choose a season all-star team.

There will also be a special accolade - the Thor Kleppe Award - given to the team that has accumulated the most points over the season.

The award takes its name from the Norwegian former IPC Ice Sledge Hockey chairperson Kleppe who died earlier this year.

Kleppe played a key role in helping get the sport onto the Paralympic Winter Games programme, making its debut at Lillehammer 1994.

A full calendar of the new World Series is set to be announced in due course.

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