The schedule is set for the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge; eight teams will go for gold at the Essar Centre and John Rhodes Community Centre in Sault Ste. Marie from October 30th to November 5th.
In partnership with the Canadian Hockey League and Ontario Hockey Federation, Hockey Canada released the schedule Friday. Team Canada Black, Team Canada White, the Czech Republic and United States will play in Group A, while Team Canada Red, Finland, Russia and Sweden will comprise Group B.
“This is a major international event for Hockey Canada, one of the biggest it runs on an annual basis, and to be able to bring the best 16-year-old hockey players from around the world to the City of Sault Ste. Marie is such an amazing opportunity,” said Cathy Chlebus, host committee co-chair. “The players who will be on the ice this November are the best of the best in their age group, and fans should be excited to see some of the future stars of the game.”
Action will get underway on Sunday, Oct. 30 when Team Canada Red takes on Finland at 12 p.m. ET. Preliminary round play will conclude on Nov. 1 before teams head into the quarter-finals on Nov. 3. The gold-medal game will be played at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, Nov. 5 at the Essar Centre. TSN and RDS, the official broadcasters of Hockey Canada, will deliver coverage of the gold-medal game.
A full-tournament ticket package, which includes tickets to all 17 games at the Essar Centre, is available for purchase online. Tickets to the five games at the John Rhodes Community Centre will be sold at the door.
“The announcement of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge schedule means 22 games and 22 chances for Sault Ste. Marie hockey fans to see the best young players from six countries,” said Jeff Beck, senior manager of events and properties with Hockey Canada. “The city has a hockey tradition almost unrivaled in the province, and we’re excited to be able to help add to it this November.”
Prior to the start of the tournament, all eight teams will see pre-tournament action on Thursday, Oct. 27, with two games each at the Essar Centre and John Rhodes Community Centre.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie previously partnered with Hockey Canada to host the 2013 TELUS Cup, Canada’s National Midget Championship, with profit of $87,500 that was reinvested into supporting community hockey programs in Sault Ste. Marie.
Last year, an economic impact study of the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge conducted by Tourism Dawson Creek and the Canadian Sport Tourism Alliance showed close to $6 million in economic activity for the Peace Region and the province of British Columbia.
The 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will bring together the top players in the world born in 2000 or later. In 2015, Team Canada White won the gold medal by defeating Russia 6-2, marking the first gold by a Canadian team since Ontario in 2011, prior to the start of the three-team national team format. Before 2014, Canada was represented by five regional teams: Atlantic, Ontario, Pacific, Quebec, and West.
Since the first World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (then known as the Quebec Esso Cup) in 1986, more than 1,600 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including 13 of the last 16 first-overall selections (Ilya Kovalchuk, 2001; Rick Nash, 2002; Marc-André Fleury, 2003; Alexander Ovechkin, 2004; Erik Johnson, 2006; Patrick Kane, 2007; John Tavares, 2009; Taylor Hall, 2010; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 2011; Nathan MacKinnon, 2013; Aaron Ekblad, 2014; Connor McDavid, 2015; Auston Matthews, 2016).