The IIHF World Junior Championship is returning to British Columbia for the first time in 13 years, and Port Alberni will host a pre-tournament game as part of the Lordco Road to the World Juniors.


On Dec. 21, Kazakhstan and Switzerland will face-off at Weyerhauser Arena (7 p.m. PT) as part of their preparations for the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship, which runs Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Vancouver and Victoria.


Kazakhstan will also take on the Alberni Valley Bulldogs of the British Columbia Hockey League in a pre-tournament game on Dec. 19 (7 p.m. PT).


Kazakhstan is back in the Top Division at the IIHF World Junior Championship for the first time since the 2009 tournament in Ottawa; its best finish ever was sixth at the 1999 World Juniors in Winnipeg. The best finish for Switzerland came at the 1998 World Juniors in Helsinki, Finland, when they won bronze.


“We are beyond thrilled to welcome the best junior players in the world to our province in December,” said Barry Petrachenko, CEO of B.C. Hockey and co-chair of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. “We know from experience what hosting this event can mean for hockey in our region and we are confident this tournament will leave a lasting impact on the growth and development of the game here in British Columbia and specifically in Port Alberni.”


This is not the first time a Hockey Canada event has come to Port Alberni. The city welcomed the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2009.


“Port Alberni has a proven track record of hosting events of this caliber, and getting the chance to showcase the best junior players in the world on Canadian ice is something young fans will remember for a long time,” said Scott Smith, president and COO of Hockey Canada.


“We are honored and excited to be taking part in this amazing event, this will be something very special for our fans, players and community.” said Tali Campbell, director of business operations for the Alberni Valley Bulldogs Hockey Club.