TIMMINS, Ont. – The first puck is ready to drop at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. All 10 teams will take to the ice for pre-tournament action on Monday night before the tournament begins on Tuesday.
The 10 teams are divided into two groups. Group A will feature Finland, Ontario, Quebec, Sweden and West (Manitoba, Nunavut, Saskatchewan), while Atlantic (New Brunswick, Newfoundland & Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island), the Czech Republic, Pacific (Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Yukon), Russia and the United States will comprise Group B.
This year’s tournament marks the first appearance for the Czech Republic since the 2006 event in Regina, Sask., and for Sweden since 1998 in Kitchener, Ont., making for one of the strongest fields in the tournament’s 24-year history.
The gold medal game on Monday, January 4 will be broadcast on TSN/RDS, the official broadcaster of Hockey Canada. In addition, all games at McIntyre Arena, with the exception of the gold medal game, will be available via webcast for $6.95 per game through FASTHockey at hockeycanada.fasthockey.com.
The 27-game tournament will be centered out of Timmins, but will feature games in five partner communities. Cochrane, Iroquois Falls, Kapuskasing, Kirkland Lake and New Liskeard will also host games during the week.
The event brings together the top players in the world born in 1993 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.
Seventeen of the 22 players who were selected for Canada’s National Junior Team and are currently playing in the 2010 IIHF World Junior Championship in Saskatchewan played either at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge or for their provincial under-17 teams at the Canada Winter Games, and alumni of the tournament include Rick Nash, Marc-André Fleury, Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Vincent Lecavalier, Patrick Kane and John Tavares.