REPORT: Buffalo the site of 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships

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On Thursday, USA Hockey announced via Twitter that there will be a major announcement in Buffalo on Friday at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

According to multiple reports, Buffalo will be the site of the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships. Buffalo was a finalist along with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and St. Louis, Missouri.

The last time Buffalo hosted the tournament was in 2011, when games were split between the, then, HSBC Arena and Dwyer Arena at Niagara University. Russia won the gold medal that year 5-3, after falling behind early 3-0 to Team Canada in the championship game. Team USA won the bronze medal over Sweden that year.

With the construction of the HarborCenter, the second venue along with the First Niagara Center is right next door. Proximity between rinks is a huge plus for Buffalo over the other cities. HarborCenter has a rink for games and another sheet of ice for practicing. That is three teams that can be practicing at once right by each other.

With the Marriott being opened at HarborCenter, and the new Courtyard Marriott next door, hotel accommodation will be another convenience for Buffalo. In 2011, neither hotel was existed, and the Hyatt downtown did most of the heavy lifting for the hoteling. Now they won’t need to worry about transportation, as both the Courtyard and the Marriott are within walking distance, or in the same building.

Other reports have now surfaced that Buffalo’s bid comes with an outdoor game. With Canadian fans flocking to the 2011 tournament, a Team USA versus Team Canada game at Ralph Wilson Stadium seems likely.

Why do the United States versus Canada over the championship game? Because there are no guarantees that the championship game will sell tickets. If Finland makes the finals, like they have recently, do not expect a huge crowd. A USA-Canada would likely be the only game that would sell out that stadium.

With an outdoor game potentially in late December or early January, a Winter Classic could make even more sense for Buffalo. The ice rink will already be built at the stadium. Buffalo has been bidding hard for the 2018 NHL Winter Classic, 10 years after they kicked off the series in 2008. Imagine the scene: Team USA versus Team Canada on New Year’s Eve, then, potentially, the Buffalo Sabres versus the Toronto Maple Leafs on New Year’s Day.

Tomorrow’s press conference will take place at 3pm on the 18-yard line at the Ralph. Coverage of the press conference can be seen on NHL Network, and also streamed live USA Hockey’s website.

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Written by Joe DiBiase

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