Each group plays a single round-robin series, with the top three advancing to the quarterfinals and the bottom two moving to the relegation round. Teams are awarded three points for a regulation win, two for an overtime or shootout win, and one point for an overtime or shootout loss. The top seed in each group receives a quarterfinal bye. The second- and third-place team in each group plays a crossover quarterfinal against a team from the other group (2 vs. 3).
Quarterfinal winners move to the semifinals while losers move to a placement game. Semifinal winners move to the gold-medal game while losers play in the bronze-medal game.
The four teams in the relegation round play a single round-robin series. The top two teams remain eligible for the 2012 event in Calgary/Edmonton while the third- and fourth-place teams are relegated to the Division I (secondary) event in 2012.
Sudden-death overtime will be five minutes in the preliminary round followed by a shootout if no goal is scored (three shooters to start, as in the NHL). In the quarterfinals, semifinals and bronze-medal game, there will be a 10-minute overtime following a three-minute intermission. In the gold medal game, there will be a 20-minute overtime following a 15-minute intermission. Shootouts will follow if no goal is scored in the overtime period.