July 4,2014(ISN) – CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Canadian Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, Ontario Hockey Federation, City of Sarnia and Municipality of Lambton Shores, announced Friday that Sarnia, Ont., will host the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge from Nov. 2-8, 2014. It will mark the seventh time in the 29-year history of the event that it will be held in Ontario.
The tournament will be the first to feature three Canadian national teams. From 1986 to 2014, Canada was represented by five regional teams: Atlantic, Ontario, Pacific, Quebec and West.
The three Canadian teams will be joined by Finland, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and the United States, with two groups of four teams. All eight teams will qualify for the quarter-finals, with the winners advancing to the semifinals, and losers facing off in placement games.
The 24-game tournament will be centered out of the RBC Centre, home of the OHL’s Sarnia Sting, but will also feature games at The Shores Recreation Centre in Lambton Shores, Ont. Those two communities, along with Petrolia, Ont., and Watford, Ont., will host pre-tournament games on Oct. 31.
Details on tickets for the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will follow shortly.
“It is a new era for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, and we’re excited Sarnia will play host to this historic event,” said Scott Smith, chief operating officer of Hockey Canada. “This tournament is an important step in the development of Canadian players, and we have no doubt the host committee in Sarnia will put on a first-class event.”
“This is an exciting time for the Hockey Canada Program of Excellence, with the introduction of a truly national under-17 program,” said Karen Phibbs, vice-chair of the Hockey Canada Board of Directors. “Fans in Sarnia are in for a treat; the future stars of the game will be on display this November.”
“A broad section of our volunteer community leaders as well as representatives from Tourism Sarnia-Lambton, the Sarnia Sting, City of Sarnia and Municipality of Lambton Shores have contributed to the success of the bid and are eager to continue as members of the host committee,” said Vicky Priall, special events coordinator for Tourism Sarnia-Lambton. “These individuals are passionate and aware of the impact that an event of this magnitude can have on our community, our province and our country. Together, the host committee is committed to hosting a first-class event that will leave a lasting legacy and create memories that will last a lifetime.”
Sarnia joins Sudbury (1992), Kitchener (1998), Timmins (2000 and 2010), London (2008) and Windsor (2012) as Ontario hosts of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Since the first World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (then known as the Quebec Esso Cup) in 1986, more than 1,400 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including 11 of the last 14 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; Aaron Ekblad, 2014).
The 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will bring together the top players in the world born in 1998 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.
As part of the new structure, the first national under-17 development camp will be held July 28 to Aug. 5 at the Markin MacPhail Centre at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, with 108 players attending.