March 6, 2018
2018 WORLD UNDER-17 HOCKEY CHALLENGE TO KICK OFF WITH CANADA-RUSSIA PRIMETIME MATCH-UP
Full event schedule, early ticket sales launch for New Brunswick-hosted international tournament
SAINT JOHN AND QUISPAMSIS, N.B. – The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge – an international showcase of some of the best young hockey talent in the world – will kick off with a primetime Canada-Russia match-up on opening day when it returns to New Brunswick in the fall of 2018. Saint John and Quispamsis will co-host the tournament scheduled to run Nov. 3-10, 2018.
Team Canada Red will meet Russia on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the qplex at 7:30 p.m. AT, following the tournament-opener at 3:30 p.m. between Finland and Sweden.
“We think having Team Canada Red take on Russia in a standalone game on Saturday evening is the perfect way to start the tournament,” said Aaron Kennedy, chair of the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge host organizing committee. “As we all know, Canada and Russia have had a long-standing rivalry in international hockey dating back to the early 1970s, and a Canada-Russia match-up is always a fan-favourite.”
The 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge represents a partnership between Hockey Canada, Hockey New Brunswick, and the Canadian Hockey League, as well as the City of Saint John, the Town of Quispamsis, and the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.
Moncton hosted the event in 1995 before it transitioned to its present-day format featuring three Canadian teams (Team Canada Black, Team Canada Red, and Team Canada White) and five international teams.
The eight-team tournament will be co-hosted at the qplex in Quispamsis, and Harbour Station in Saint John. Attention will turn to Saint John on Sunday, Nov. 4, when the United States opens defence of its 2017 title against the Czech Republic at noon, followed by an all-Canada match-up as Team Canada Black faces off against Team Canada White at 4 p.m. AT.
Special recognition events are planned throughout the tournament, including a nod to the Canadian Armed Forces at the Nov. 4 Canada game. The group has also confirmed four pre-tournament games will take place on Thursday, Nov. 1, featuring Team Canada Black and Finland; Sweden taking on the Czech Republic; Team Canada White and Russia; and Team Canada Red facing the United States. Details on times, locations, and tickets for the pre-tournament games will be announced at a later date.
“The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is just as exciting today as it was when the province last hosted its predecessor back in 1995 – perhaps even more so under its new format,” said Nic Jansen, executive director of Hockey New Brunswick. “A tremendous amount of work has happened already to showcase not only the top international hockey talent that will be on the ice in Saint John and Quispamsis, but also the world-class event-hosting capabilities of the province of New Brunswick. I look forward to seeing hockey fans from across the surrounding communities come out to support these teams, and show off the best of our province’s hospitality.”
The tournament schedule has been developed to allow fans who purchase a week-long pass, available online or at the Harbour Station box office for as low as $99, to catch 17 of the 22 tournament games. A limited number of tournament passes are available for purchase.
“The local organizing committee, led by Aaron as its chair, has been working diligently to put together a very special event for not only the players, staff, and fans of the eight participating teams, but for all of the hockey fans in Saint John, Quispamsis, and the surrounding communities,” said Jeff Beck, senior manager of events and properties for Hockey Canada. “This event truly is a showcase of the best hockey talent in this age group internationally, and fans have a lot to look forward to this November.”
Since the first World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (previously known as the Quebec Esso Cup) in 1986, more than 1,600 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including 13 of the last 17 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 McKinnon, 2013; Aaron Ekblad, 2014; Connor McDavid, 2015; and Auston Matthews, 2016.
The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge was last held in New Brunswick 23 years ago, and featured three current NHL players – San Jose Sharks centre Joe Thornton; left-winger Patrick Marleau of the Toronto Maple Leafs; and Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo. The trio was selected first, second, and fourth respectively in the 1997 NHL Entry Draft.
Recent editions of the event have resulted in a local economic boost to the host-regions of as much as $6 million.
For more information on the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along via social media on Facebook or Twitter.
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