CALGARY, Alta. – Hockey Canada, in partnership with the Ontario Hockey Federation, announced Wednesday that Windsor, Ont., will host the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge from December 29, 2011 to January 4, 2012. This will mark the sixth time in the 26-year history of the tournament that it will be held in Ontario.
The 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will follow the same format as previous years – five Canadian entries (Atlantic, Ontario, Pacific, Quebec, West) will be joined by five international teams, with two groups of five teams. The top two teams from each group will advance to the semifinals, while the remaining three teams from each group will cross over for placement games.
The 27-game tournament will be centered out of the WFCU Centre, home of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, but will feature games in partner venues. The tournament host committee is currently working with communities in the Windsor area to determine which will host satellite games. The Windsor region has successfully hosted a number of hockey events, including the Home Hardware CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, the SUBWAY OHL All-Star Classic, and the SUBWAY Super Series.
Ticket information for the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will be released later in the summer.
“The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, as the first step of the Program of Excellence, is one of Hockey Canada’s most important events,” says Bob Nicholson, president and CEO of Hockey Canada. “We have no doubt Windsor will do a first-class job in hosting the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in 2012.”
Hockey Canada originally awarded the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, along with the 2011 tournament, to Winnipeg, Man., in October 2009. The 2011 tournament was a tremendous success, setting a record for single-game attendance with 12,060 at the MTS Centre for the gold medal game. However, with the recent awarding of an NHL franchise to the City of Winnipeg and True North Sports and Entertainment, Hockey Canada and True North mutually agreed for True North to put its focus on the return of the Jets and made the decision to relocate the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Windsor joins Sudbury (1992), Kitchener (1998), Timmins (2000, 2010) and London (2008) as Ontario host cities for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Last season 79 players from the Canadian Hockey League participated in the 2011 event in Winnipeg, MB, including 20 Ontario Hockey League players that captured gold with Team Ontario in a 5-3 win over the United States.
Since the first World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (then known as the Quebec Esso Cup) in 1986, more than 1,100 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including nine of the last 11 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).
The 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will bring together the top players in the world born in 1995 or later. The regional under-17 program is the first step in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence. Many players who compete at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge go on to represent Canada with the National Men’s Under-18 Team, National Junior Team and National Men’s Team.