The final schedule and the ticket structure for the 2004 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge were announced during a press conference today at the Fairmont Newfoundland Hotel in St. John’s.
The ten-team international Hockey Challenge is scheduled for December 29-January 4 in St. John’s and Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. Five Canadian teams, four European teams and the USA will take part in the 32-game event.
Scott Salmond, Manager, High Performance for Hockey Canada emphasized the importance of the tournament. "The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge plays a very important role in the Hockey Canada Program of Excellence. This event provides an opportunity for Canada's elite level players to compete against the top international players in their age category. The World Hockey Challenge provides our scouting staff with an outstanding opportunity to evaluate players against their peers for selection to our National U-18 Program."
Event Chair Mike Buist cited the Challenge as a double win. "It will give local hockey fans the chance to watch the best young players in the world perform and it will allow these young men an opportunity to enjoy all that the Avalon Region offers visitors".
An extremely attractive ticket package is being offered for each of the two venues being used for the Championship. A Mile One package or a Mount Pearl Glacier package may be purchased for only $99.00, tax included, for 15 games including medal games.
"We have worked hard to provide fans with a reasonably priced package for this high level event," stated Event Chair Mike Buist. "With 15 games costing about $100, we feel the package will be attractive to most hockey families."
The five Canadian teams are: Team Pacific is made up of players from British Columbia, North West Territories, Yukon and Alberta. Team Western is made up of players from Saskatchewan, Nunavut and Manitoba. Team Atlantic is made up of players from Newfoundland, Labrador, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Team Ontario and Team Quebec are made up of players from their respective provinces.
The roster for Team Atlantic is scheduled to be announced on November 11.
The ten teams are divided into two pools. Pool "A" is comprised of U.S.A., Team Quebec, Czech Republic, Team Atlantic and Germany while Pool "B" is made up of Team Pacific, Team Ontario, Russia, Team Western and Finland. Each team will play four games within its pool. The top two teams in each pool advance into the medal semi-finals while the bottom three teams in each pool play cross-over games for final placings. Team Atlantic will play its cross-over game at Mile One even if there has to be a schedule change.
The schedule of 32 games includes two exhibition games on . Team Ontario vs. the Czech Republic at the S.W. Moores Stadium in Harbour Grace Team Western vs. Germany at the Whitbourne Arena. Three other exhibition games will be played at Mile One Stadium and the Glacier.
The Host Committee has an experienced and very determined executive committee in place. The eight-member group is working closely with Hockey Canada and Hockey Newfoundland & Labrador as well as putting a sizeable overall local working committee in place. The executive committee includes:
Mike Buist, Event Chair is General Manager of the Avalon Convention and Visitors Bureau and has extensive experience in marketing and event management. A graduate of McMaster University (BA, BPHE), he has held senior national, regional and provincial marketing positions within brewing, hotel, airline and tourism companies and has filled executive government positions in Newfoundland and Labrador tourism and recreation. In the event management field he has contributed to the success of four Canada Games, the 1988 Calgary Olympics, eight Labatt Briers, the 1997 John Cabot 500th Anniversary Celebrations and numerous national championships.
Rick Comerford, Special Events Chair is Director General of Programs for the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency in St. John’s. Coach of the Newfoundland and Labrador team that won the 1994 Irving Oil Challenge Cup, Atlantic Canada’s Bantam Hockey Championship, his contributions to the community include 20 years as an executive member and coach within minor hockey and minor soccer. He has served as a member and/or coach for numerous Atlantic and national championships held within the province.
Robert (Gus) Crane, Protocol Chair
Charlie Decker, Operations Manager has an extensive background of involvement in successful worthwhile community projects for more than 30 years. A retired teacher with a great deal of coaching experience, he has served on a variety of local, provincial and national sports executives and has an organizing career overflowing with exceptional results including the annual Confederation Cup High School Hockey Tournament.
Barb Foster, Mount Pearl Glacier Venue Manager has a long history of volunteer commitment to worthwhile projects and has earned respect for her many contributions to the community. A mother of four and grandmother of one, she is a housewife who was nominated for Mount Pearl Citizen of the Year for 2001. Her volunteer career includes five years as venue manager for the Confederation Cup High School Hockey Tournament, organizing transportation for the 2002 Irving Oil Challenge Cup (Atlantic Canada’s Bantam Hockey Championship) and 12 years with the Mount Pearl Minor Hockey Association.
Douglas Moores, Q.C. Marketing and Media Chair is a prominent lawyer in Conception Bay North. He has been involved in many successful volunteer events during his career. He chaired the 1992 Provincial Summer Games in Harbour Grace-Carbonear and in 1997 was the Chair of the "Matthew" visit that was the highlight of the Provincial 500th Anniversary Celebrations.
Chris Schwartz, St. John’s Sport and Entertainment Liaison
Wayne Spearns, Mile One Venue Manger, is Client Service Team Manager with Veterans Affairs Canada, includes executive positions with Conception Bay South and Holy Spirit minor hockey organizations within his many years of volunteer service to the community. A founding committee member of the annual Confederation Cup High School Hockey Tournament, Wayne is still active in organizing that tournament. He has also served on host committees for the World and Canadian Junior Men’s Softball Championships.