This was the last World Championships played on natural ice; and were the first World Championships held in the USSR and they are remembered for the political circumstances surrounding the games. Hungary had been recently occupied by the Soviet Army (to suppress a revolution in October and November 1956), and as a result, the United States and Canada boycotted the World Championships in protest. Joining them were Norway, West Germany, Italy and Switzerland. East Germany participated at the top level for the first time.
With the boycott, the home team USSR was heavily favoured to win the tournament, but Sweden surprised the world by pulling off an upset. The first step was taken in their third game, when they beat Czechoslovakia 2-0. This important victory was saved by the head of Leksands IF defenseman Vilgot Larsson. He literally headed the puck away from the Swedish net to save a goal, and in the days before mandatory helmets, received several stitches for his heroics. In the final game, Sweden opened with two goals, but the dynamic Soviets responded with 4 goals of their own. Down by two in the third period, goals by Eilert Määttä and Erling Lindström tied the game, and the goaltending of Thord Flodqvist and play of Sven "Tumba" Johansson guaranteed the final draw. The USSR had previously only tied Czechoslovakia, so all Sweden needed was one point, or a tie, for gold.
Games played against Japan did not count for the purposes of determining the European champion. Since six of the seven European participants defeated Japan, and since the only opponent that did not defeat Japan (Austria) also lost to each of their European opponents, finishing order for the European championship table was the same as it was for the main championship table.