ST. JOHN'S, NF - The Canadian Hockey Association announced on Friday that the City of St. John's, Newfoundland has been awarded the 2004 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
This prestigious hockey event features the best under-17 hockey players in the world and is a stepping-stone for many young players striving to play for Canada's national teams or in the National Hockey League.
The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is made up of 10 international teams. Canada is represented by five regional teams: Team Pacific, Team Western, Team Ontario, Team Quebec and Team Atlantic. Also invited to participate in the event are five international teams: Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Russia and USA.
Canada has hosted the event on three previous occasions. In 2000, Timmins, ON hosted the event, New Glasgow, NS hosted the 2001 event and Stonewall/Selkirk, MB in 2002. Every fourth year, the tournament takes a break as the Canadian players represent their province at the Canada Winter Games. Such is the case this year as Bathurst/Campbellton, NB will host the 2003 CWG from February 22 to .
"The 2004 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is a tremendous opportunity to showcase to the hockey world our city, our facilities and our unique hospitality," said St. John's mayor Andy Wells. "We are confident that the successful staging of this tournament will lay the groundwork for attracting similar events in the future."
The Under-17 Program is an integral part of the CHA's Program of Excellence. The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge gives players an opportunity to experience high calibre hockey, while also preparing themselves for possible selection for the National Under-18 Team and the National Junior Team.
"This event has grown tremendously over the past few years and it continues to become bigger and better each year," said Johnny Misley, Vice-President of Hockey Operations for the CHA. "The Canadian contingent in this event is remarkable which is an excellent breeding group for our National Under-18 Program and our National Junior Program."
Canada's 2003 National Junior Team, currently competing at the 2003 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship, boasts 15 under-17 alumnus; Brendan Bell (2000), Pierre-Marc Bouchard (2001), Carlo Colaiacovo (2000), Steve Eminger (2000), Marc-Andre Fleury (2001), Boyd Gordon (2000), David LeNeveu (2000), Jay McClement (2000), Nathan Paetsch (2000), Daniel Paille (2001), Derek Roy (2000), Jordin Tootoo (2000), Scottie Upshall (2000), Ian White (2001) and Jeff Woywitka (2000).
This event has seen many NHL'ers through the years, including Ilya Kovalchuk (Atlanta Thrashers), Joe Thornton (Boston Bruins), Jarome Iginla (Calgary Flames), Radek Bonk (Ottawa Senators) and Mats Sundin (Toronto Maple Leafs).
"We are very proud to host this prestigious international event," said Marv Ryder, President, Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador. " We look forward to working with the many volunteers and organizing committee members in making this a successful tournament."
"We are delighted that the Canadian Hockey Association has chosen the St. John's/Mount Pearl region to host this exciting world hockey event," said Mike Buist, Chair of the 2004 Host Committee. "This is an excellent opportunity to promote minor hockey in our province, as well as our tourism product."
Tournament format includes a round robin of two five-team pools, with the top two teams from each pool facing off in semi-finals. Both semi-final winners will play each other to determine the world champion.