World Junior Hockey coming to B.C.

International U20 championship to be co-hosted by Vancouver, Victoria

Thirteen years after it hosted its first World Junior Hockey Championship (WJHC), Vancouver will again host one of the world’s most popular hockey tournaments.

At a press conference at Rogers Arena this afternoon (Dec. 1), Hockey Canada COO Scott Smith announced the home of the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks will again host the best U20 national teams at the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship.

Vancouver and Victoria submitted a joint bid to host the event, a bid that saw a partnership between the Vancouver Giants and Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League, and the Canucks. Nineteen games will be played at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, and 14 will take place at Victoria’s Save-On Foods Memorial Centre.

“The province of British Columbia and the cities of Vancouver and Victoria have a history of hosting successful, world-class events, including the 2006 IIHF World Junior Championship,” said Smith. “The bid put forward by BC Hockey and the province is truly provincial in nature, with positive impacts extending province-wide to communities beyond the two host-cities.”

At the 2006 WJHC, round robin games were played at the Pacific Coliseum, as well as Prospera Place in Kelowna and the Interior Savings Centre in Kamloops.

Playoff games were played at what was then known as General Motors Place.

A new attendance record was set in 2006, as 325,138 fans watched the 31 games for an average of 10,488 per game.

Canada defeated Russia 5-0 in the gold medal game, watched by a capacity crowd of 18,630.

“When it was over in 2006, we said it was a lot of fun, we’ve got to do this again,” said Vancouver Giants owner Ron Toigo. “It took a while  but here we are.”

The tournament is a huge draw both in terms of ticket sales and television ratings as it showcases future National Hockey League (NHL) stars. At the 2006 tournament, Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (Canada), Pittsburgh Penguin forward Evgeni Malkin (Russia), Boston Bruins goaltender Tuuka Rask (Finland) and New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider (U.S.A.) were all playing for their country prior to the start of their NHL careers.

Players from British Columbia who have played for Team Canada in the tournament over the past three years include (hometown, tournament year): Joe Hickets (Kamloops, 2014/2015), Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam, 2015), Jake Virtanen (Abbotsford, 2014/2015), Shea Theodore (Aldergrove 2014), Nic Petan (North Delta 2014), Sam Reinhart (North Vancouver, 2014), Curtis Lazar, (Salmon Arm, 2014), Morgan Reilly (Vancouver, 2013), Tyler Wotherspoon (Cloverdale, 2013), Griffin Reinhart (North Vancouver, 2013).