For the first time since 2005, the IIHF World Junior Championship, a holiday hockey tradition, will get underway on Christmas Day. Three games highlight the opening-day schedule before Canada’s National Junior Team begins defence of its gold medal against Germany on Boxing Day.
Hockey Canada and the host committee, on behalf of the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), unveiled the full tournament schedule Monday. All 28 games will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Alta., from Dec. 25, 2020 to Jan. 5, 2021.
As the situation surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic continues to evolve, it was announced last month, through careful consideration with provincial and federal health authorities, that the World Juniors would be played without fans.
“A tremendous amount of planning has been underway for almost two years and announcing the schedule signifies how close we are to puck drop,” said, Riley Wiwchar, executive director of the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. “After announcing the return of the tournament last month, there is a feeling, even knowing there won’t be fans in the building, of excitement and anticipation across the province and extending across the country as fans get set to cheer on the future stars of the game.”
Canadian Hockey League talent will once again play a prominent role for Team Canada who hosted a virtual Summer Development Camp in July with 43 players from across the Western Hockey League, Ontario Hockey League, and Quebec Major Junior Hockey League invited.
“To have the opportunity to go and play in that tournament and go into that atmosphere will just be something really cool and something that we’ve all been missing and I’m really looking forward to hopefully getting back in that jersey,” Erie Otters defenceman Jamie Drysdale told TSN’s James Duthie. “It doesn’t matter that we won last year. Nobody really cares anymore. It’s done with and it’s a new year. We have to go in with a mentality where we’re coming in just as hungry as everyone else.”
Drysdale, the sixth overall selection in the 2020 NHL Draft by the Anaheim Ducks, is one of seven returning eligible players along with first overall pick Alexis Lafreniere, second overall pick Quinton Byfield, 18th overall pick Dawson Mercer, and 19-year-olds Bowen Byram, Dylan Cozens, and Connor McMichael.
“I think it’ll be a really exciting tournament and one that everyone who makes Team Canada will be really excited to play in and really look forward to try and push for that second straight gold medal.”
The 10-team tournament features Canada in Group A with Finland, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland. Group B is comprised of Austria, the Czech Republic, Russia, Sweden and the United States.
In addition to Canada’s Boxing Day match-up with Germany, it will also play Slovakia on Dec. 27 and Switzerland on Dec. 29 before closing out the preliminary round with a New Year’s Eve showdown with Finland.
Overall, Canada has captured 18 gold medals (1982, 1985, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2015, 2018, 2020), 11 silver (1975, 1976, 1977, 1986, 1999, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2010, 2011, 2017) and six bronze (1974, 1978, 1983, 2000, 2001, 2012).
For more information from the IIHF, please visit the official tournament website at 2021.worldjuniors.hockey.
For more information on Hockey Canada, Canada’s National Junior Team and the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, please visit HockeyCanada.ca, or follow along through social media on Facebook, Twitter and #WorldJuniors.