BONNYVILLE, Alta. – The World Junior A Challenge – a showcase of Canadian and international Junior A talent – is returning to Bonnyville, Alta., for the second time in three years when the town hosts the event Dec. 9-15, 2018.
The 2018 World Junior A Challenge represents a partnership between Hockey Canada, the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), and Hockey Alberta, as well as the local host committee and NHL Central Scouting. Similar to previous years, two Canadian teams – Canada East and Canada West – will compete with four international entries for a gold medal in Bonnyville.
“Bonnyville was an excellent host to teams, fans, and our partners at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge, and it’s great to be returning there in 2018,” said Dean McIntosh, vice-president of events and properties with Hockey Canada. “Its previous success and strong community support in 2016 resulted in a strong legacy for the community, and we look forward to continuing to support the growth of and development of hockey, and the positive financial impact to the area, with this year’s tournament.”
The World Junior A Challenge host committee will look to emulate the success of the 2016 event, which was staged by nearly 150 community volunteers.
“The level of support we received in 2016 from the region, funding partners, and volunteers was truly incredible,” said Robb Hunter, co-chair of the local host committee. “This support is the reason our group has the opportunity to bring the elite competition of the World Junior A Challenge back to Bonnyville so quickly, and we are excited to create another memorable event for all participating teams through the continued passion for junior hockey in our community.”
Team Canada West claimed its fifth gold medal at the 2017 World Junior A Challenge in Truro, N.S., defeating the United States 5-1 in front of a sell-out crowd at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.
Since the event’s inception in 2006, more than 230 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including 36 first-round selections (Beau Bennett, Brock Boeser, Alexander Burmistrov, Dennis Cholowski, Joe Colborne, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Dante Fabbro, Nikita Filatov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Denis Guryanov, Tyson Jost, Dmitri Kulikov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Elias Lindholm, Hampus Lindholm, John Moore, Vladislav Namestnikov, Riley Nash, Valeri Nichushkin, Dylan Olsen, David Pastrnak, German Rubtsov, Ilya Samsonov, Jordan Schmaltz, Nick Schmaltz, Jaden Schwartz, Brendan Smith, Evgeny Svechnikov, Vladimir Tarasenko, Kyle Turris, Alexander Wennberg, Andrei Vasilevski, Jakub Vrana, Nail Yakupov and Jakub Zboril).
“Every year, the competition at the World Junior A Challenge appears to be stronger and the fan support continues to grow,” said CJHL president, Brent Ladds. “Bonnyville has proven to be a remarkable host city with outstanding community support, and we look forward to working with our partners and the host committee to ensure both players and fans celebrate another memorable tournament.”
Of the 12 gold-medal games at the World Junior A Challenge, 10 have featured at least one Canadian team. Team Canada West has captured gold five times (2006, 2007, 2011, 2015, 2017), silver three times (2008, 2009, 2012), and bronze once (2013). Team Canada East has won a medal six times, taking home silver five times (2006, 2007, 2010, 2011, 2016) and bronze once (2008).