PORT ALBERNI, BC – The countdown has reached its end and the action is set to begin at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. All 10 teams will take to the ice for pre-tournament action on Sunday night before the tournament begins on Monday.
The 10 teams are divided into two groups. Group A will feature Atlantic ( New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island), Germany, Ontario, Pacific (Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Yukon) and Russia. Finland, Quebec, Slovakia, the United States and West (Manitoba, Nunavut, Saskatchewan) will comprise Group B. The teams will play four preliminary round games each, followed by the playoff round.
The gold medal game on Sunday, January 4 will be broadcast on TSN/RDS, the official broadcaster of Hockey Canada. In addition, Shaw TV and StarChoice will be broadcasting selected preliminary round games, as well as both semifinals on Saturday, January 3. Check your local listings for broadcast times in your area for all games.
The 27-game tournament will be centered out of Port Alberni, but will feature games across Vancouver Island. Campbell River, Courtenay, the Cowichan Valley, Nanaimo and Oceanside/Parksville will also host games during the week.
The event brings together the top players in the world born in 1992 or later. The under-17 program is the first step in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence. Many players who compete at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge go on to represent Canada with the National Men’s Under-18 Team, National Junior Team and National Men’s Team.
Twelve of the 22 players who were selected for Canada’s National Junior Team and are currently playing in the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ottawa, ON played at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, and alumni of the tournament include Rick Nash, Marc-André Fleury, Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Vincent Lecavalier, and Patrick Kane.