REGINA, SK– Hockey Canada announced on Thursday that Regina, Saskatchewan has been awarded the 2006 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. The 2006 event will be held to .
This will be the second time that the province of Saskatchewan has hosted the World Under-17 Challenge having previously hosted the event in Swift Current in 1998. Although the city of Regina will be the official host, games will also be played in Moose Jaw, SK and two other satellite locations (TBD) within 30 minutes of Regina.
The Host Committee will be announcing ticket details in the coming months. Please check Hockey Canada’s website at www.hockeycanada.ca for updates.
“Canada’s Program of Excellence has continued to grow and has proven to be a corner stone in preparing young Canadians for international competition“, said Johnny Misley, Vice-President, Hockey Canada. “The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is the first opportunity for young players to represent our country and showcase their talents on the world stage.”
The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is made up of 10 teams. Canada is represented by five regional teams: Team Pacific (BC and AB), Team Western (SK and MB), Team Ontario, Team Quebec and Team Atlantic (NB, NF, NS and PEI). Also invited to participate in the event are five international teams: Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Slovakia and USA.
Regina is no stranger to hosting high profiled events. Most recently Regina played host to the 2003 Grey Cup and were at the centre of the Major Junior hockey scene when they hosted the 2001 Memorial Cup Championship. Regina also hosted the 1995 Grey Cup and the 1992 Brier. Regina has a rich hockey history in the form of the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League, which is one of the oldest teams in the league dating back to the WHL’s inaugural season in 1966-67.
“It has become the norm in Saskatchewan to host entertaining and highly successful events, and we look forward to continuing this trend with the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge” said Mr. Hubbs, President of the Saskatchewan Hockey Association. “The legacy of this event will be of significant importance to young hockey players for some time to come in this Province. This will be a great opportunity for Regina to enjoy the skills and team play of world class players and perhaps some future NHL'ers”
“Our ability in Saskatchewan to continue to produce top level hockey players stems from the fact that we have an excellent grassroots programs overseen by the Saskatchewan Hockey Association and its numerous members that make hockey available to as many players, both male and female, as possible” said Aaron Fox, Chairperson, Host Committee. “The pride that we have in the elite players we produce is only matched by the pride we have in the many boys and girls who grow up playing and enjoying this game and who carry on doing so as amateur players, coaches and administrators.”
Many of Canada’s brightest young hockey stars made their international debut at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge such as Nathan Horton, Rick Nash, Eric Staal, Marc-André Fleury, Jason Spezza, Jay Bouwmeester and Vincent Lecavalier. The Under-17 challenge has also featured some international rising stars in Alexander Ovechkin, Nikolai Zherdev, Ilya Kovalchuk, Joni Pitkanen and the Sedin twins (Daniel and Henrik).
The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is the first step in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence. The Program of Excellence is a high performance program that is based on a progressive model that begins in the Hockey Canada Branches at the U17 level, and continues at the national level with the Under-18 Team and National Junior Team.
Tournament format includes a round robin of two five-team pools, with the top two teams from each pool facing off in semi-finals. For more details on the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge please visit Hockey Canada's official web site at www.hockeycanada.ca.