It was first reported on Thursday that the 2018 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships would be returning to the City of Buffalo.
On Friday, in a press conference at Ralph Wilson Stadium, USA Hockey officially confirmed the reports. In December of 2017, the world will return to Buffalo.
“The World Juniors is an event which has elevated in prestige, in status and in visibility over the last several years,” said David Ogrean, the executive director of USA Hockey. “In the opportunities we have had to host in the United States, our most successful experience was in Buffalo in 2011… To no surprise, the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships have been awarded by USA Hockey and the International Ice Hockey Federation to the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo, New York.”
Since 2011, Buffalo has had a complete face-lift with the construction of the HarborCenter, and the other developments along Canalside and around the First Niagara Center.
In the six times the United States has hosted the World Junior Championships, Buffalo is the only city to not only host the tournament twice, but to host the tournament in consecutive years.
We have the honor of trying to enhance junior hockey and the world,” Sabres owner, Terry Pegula said. “When we hosted the tournament in 2011, the Sabres whole market area put more people in seats than any event that was hosted in the United States. I am very grateful to USA Hockey for giving us the right to host the tournament… We are gonna make you proud, we’re going to do the best job we can.”
For the first time in the tournament’s history, there will be a game outdoors at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) December 4, 2015
As of right now, it is uncertain who will play in the outdoor game at the Ralph, but the hope is for the United States to play Canada.
“That’s the goal for sure,” Ogrean said. “The IIHF allows some flexibility if the results of the 2017 tournament are as such that we’re not in the same pool, so that a country can be moved. Those early discussions on a, ‘what if’ basis has happened. Nothing is quite certain yet, but we think the US-Canada rivalry is the best in the game and that’s obviously what we’re designing this for.”
If it is Team USA versus Team Canada, the Ralph should be able to sell out, which would create a surreal atmosphere, similar to the 2008 Winter Classic between the Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“As we discussed this with the Sabres and the Bills, certainly they showed us the results of the last time a rink was put in here and what happens to the sight lines and so forth,” said Mike Bertsch, the Senior Director of Corporate Affairs at USA Hockey. “Our confidence is they understand it as well as anyone since they have already hosted a game. We would look at the sight lines and try to understand the seating capacity. Our objective is to fill it, and fill it with a lot of American flags.”
“When we hosted the Winter Classic in 2008, this building suited perfectly for the sight lines based on the proximity of the upper deck,” Sabres and Bills President, Russ Brandon said. “We filled the building, and we anticipate to fill the building again.”
USA Hockey also announced that the preliminary roster for the junior camp will be released on Monday, which will be cut down to 23 players before the 2016 tournament begins on December 26.
This season, the World Junior Championships are being held in Helsinki, Finland, with Canada being the most recent champion of the tournament.
The 2018 tournament is expected to start the day after Christmas in 2017, and it will conclude on January 5 with the gold medal being awarded to the victorious nation.
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