RED DEER (Alberta) - Canadian Hockey and Hockey Alberta announced today that the world's best under-17 players will come to Red Deer, Alberta, for the 1996 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge from , to .
The 1996 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will feature five Canadian regional teams, coming from Pacific (B.C. and Alberta), West (Saskatchewan and Manitoba), Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and Newfoundland), and five international teams from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden, and the United States.
The ten teams will be divided into two groups, playing in a single round-robin preliminary series. The top two teams from each group will cross-over in the semi-finals with the winners moving on to the championship game and the losers facing off for the bronze medal on .
Œ'Not only is this one of Canadian Hockey's most exciting championships for fans, players and parents,'Œ said Bob Nicholson, Canadian Hockey's senior vice-president, hockey operations, Œ'it has also proven to be an important building block in a player's career towards our national teams program and the National Hockey League.'
Canada has won a record four consecutive World Junior titles (19), with 23 players having graduated from the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, including Dean McAmmond, Bryan McCabe, Brendan Witt, Brad Larsen and Wade Redden, to name a few.
The NHL has also benefited from the international under-17 program with over 60 players having represented their country or a Canadian region. Some of the NHLers include Pavel Bure (USSR 1988), Alexander Mogilny (USSR 1986), Luke Richardson (Ontario 1986), Scott Niedermayer (Pacific 1990), Felix Potvin (Quebec 1988), Niklas Sundstrom (Sweden 1992), Pat Peake (USA 1990), and Curtis Leschyshyn (West 1986).
Œ'Canadian Hockey is extremely pleased to be returning to Red Deer for this world tournament,'Œ said Cecil Taylor of Charlottetown, P.E.I., minor hockey vice-chairman for Canadian Hockey.
Œ'They have proven that they can translate their successes at the grassroots level, from their initiation program to the Red Deer Chiefs who will be competing in their third consecutive Air Canada Cup national midget hockey championship,'Œ added Mr. Taylor, Œ'to the international level with the strong volunteer base, fan support and corporate involvement that was seen during the exciting and highly successful 1995 World Junior Championship.'Œ
'ŒWe're really excited to have the opportunity to host the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge,'Œ said Larry Pearson, chairman of the application committee for the 1996 World Under-17 Challenge.
Œ'There is a lot of enthusiasm among the volunteers and hockey community in Central Alberta,'Œ added Mr. Pearson. Œ'The 1995 World Junior Championship, hosted by Red Deer, set the stage for us and the whole hockey community is pleased that world-class hockey is coming back to the region.'Œ
This is the seventh World Hockey Challenge held in Canada. The first two tournaments were played in Montreal in 19 with Quebec taking the gold medal, the Soviet Union claiming silver and Team Pacific taking the bronze in the inaugural event. The Soviet Union, Sweden and Quebec placed first, second and third, respectively, in 1988.
St. Jerome, Quebec, was the site of the 1990 World Hockey Challenge with Finland defeating Quebec in the final, and the Soviet Union earning the bronze medal.
The tournament went outside of the province of Quebec for the first time in 1992 when Sudbury, Ontario played host to the ten-team competition. Ontario claimed its first of two titles that year, followed by Quebec and Czechoslovakia.
The World Hockey Challenge and the gold medal was returned to Quebec in 1994 when it was played in Amos. The United States lost to Quebec, 6-5, in the overtime final, while Team Pacific took their second bronze medal shutting out Czechoslovakia 5-0.
Moncton, New Brunswick, was host to the 1995 World Hockey Challenge that saw Ontario edge Finland 2-1 in the final. Quebec earned their sixth consecutive medal with their 3-2 win over Team West.