Hockey County will share the excitement of the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship with nine other Ontario cities.
Host organizers of the event, slated for December 26 to January 5 at Scotiabank Place and the Ottawa Civic Centre, announced this week that pre-competition games will be played in Toronto, Hamilton, Kingston, Kitchener, Mississauga, Oshawa, Brockville, Barrie and Brampton.
Cyril Leeder, the vice-chair of the host organizing committee, said it’s expected that at least 75,000 fans will take in the pre-tournament action.
“When these games get added in, it’ll end up that over 500,000 people will be able to see either the pre-competition or the tournament itself,” said Leeder, also the COO of the Ottawa Senators and Scotiabank Place.
Canada’s pre-competition schedule includes games at Toronto’s Air Canada Centre (December 19 vs. Sweden), Mississauga’s Hershey Centre (December 21 vs. Finland) and Copps Coliseum in Hamilton (December 23 vs. Slovakia). Prior to that, a final selection camp is set for December 11-15 in Ottawa. The team will then assemble at CFB Petawawa for three days of final training before beginning its pre-tourney play.
The tournament’s other nine teams are expected to arrive in Canada around December 18. Each will be based in different Ontario centres, with only Germany setting up camp in Ottawa before the tournament. Other home bases across the province include Kingston (Russia, United States), Brampton (Czech Republic), Barrie (Finland), Oshawa (Kazakhstan), Brockville (Latvia), Kitchener (Slovakia) and Mississauga (Sweden).
Clearly, the economic benefits the tournament figures to provide are being spread way beyond the host city of Ottawa.
“The World Juniors will be one of the largest sporting events our city and province has ever witnessed, and the McGuinty government was pleased to provide $2 million to attract the tournament to our province,” said Ottawa West-Nepean MPP Jim Watson, the Ontario minister of municipal affairs and housing.
“When all is said and done, it’s all about hockey. It’s all about fans watching some of the great up-and-coming junior players from our country and around the world, and it’s also about the benefit of having young hockey players look up to their idols at the Civic Centre and Scotiabank Place.”
Margarett Best, the provincial minister of health promotion, added, “hockey is part of the culture of this province and the Ontario government is delighted to host the world and celebrate the best in junior hockey at (the 2009 World Juniors).
“Attracting international sporting events is good for our economy and encourages more Ontarians to participate in sport and lead healthier lives.”
A 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship tournament flag was raised in front of City Hall earlier this week and will fly there until the conclusion of the event.
“We are prepared to host the world and as well, are committed to providing an exceptional venue for the next generation of superstar hockey players,” said Ottawa mayor Larry O’Brien.