by Jason LaRose
December 28, 2013, SYDNEY, N.S. (ISN) – The first puck is ready to drop at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. All 10 teams take to the ice for pre-tournament action Saturday night before the tournament begins Sunday.
The 27-game tournament will be centred out of the Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S., and Emera Centre Northside in North Sydney, N.S., with the Civic Centre in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., hosting two preliminary round games and two placement games. Those three communities, along with Eskasoni, N.S., and Louisdale, N.S., will host pre-tournament games on Saturday.
The 10 teams are divided into two groups. Group A will feature the Czech Republic, Pacific (Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Yukon), Quebec, Sweden and West (Manitoba, Nunavut, Saskatchewan), while Atlantic (New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island), Germany, Ontario, Russia and the United States will comprise Group B.
The gold medal game will be held Jan. 4 at 5 p.m. AT/1 p.m. PT and will be shown on TSN/RDS, Hockey Canada’s official broadcasters. All other games at the tournament, including 20 preliminary round games, three placement games, both semifinals and the bronze medal game, will be available live through FASTHockey webcasts at www.hockeycanada.ca/wu17.
Ticket packages are now available in all three host communities – Sydney (12 games, $99), North Sydney (15 games, $99) and Port Hawkesbury (five games, $50). For more information on tickets, including how to purchase, CLICK HERE.
The event brings together the top players in the world born in 1997 or later. The under-17 program is the first step in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence. Many players who compete at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge go on to represent Canada with the National Men’s Under-18 Team, National Junior Team and National Men’s Team.
Nineteen of the 21 players who were selected for Canada’s National Junior Team and are currently playing in the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmö, Sweden, played at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Since the first under-17 tournament (then known as the Quebec Esso Cup) in 1986, more than 1,200 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including 10 of the last 13 first-overall selections (Ilya Kovalchuk, 2001; Rick Nash, 2002; Marc-André Fleury, 2003; Alexander Ovechkin, 2004; Erik Johnson, 2006; Patrick Kane, 2007; John Tavares, 2009; Taylor Hall, 2010; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 2011; Nathan MacKinnon, 2013).