Halifax-Moncton to host World Juniors

WILLY PALOV wpalov@herald.ca



SaltWire Network



Hockey's marquee international tournament is coming to the Maritimes at the end of this year. The International Ice Hockey Federation announced on Thursday Halifax and Moncton will host the 2023 World Junior Hockey Championship from Dec. 26, 2022 to Jan. 5, 2023. "Nova Scotia is thrilled to be selected to host the 2023 World Juniors, which will be the best tournament to date," Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston said in a news release. "We are ready to roll out the welcome mat for the players, their families and visiting fans." This will be the first time the tournament has been held in Atlantic Canada since 2003 when Halifax and Sydney cohosted. That event was a raging success, with fans setting a new attendance record and impressing followers around the world with their rabid support. "Halifax is a hockey town and so is Moncton," Halifax Regional Municipality Mayor Mike Savage said in a news release. "Hosting the World Juniors will help our region rebound from the pandemic, celebrate our passion for the game and inspire the next generation of hockey players in our region." The attendance record set 20 years ago has since been broken and won't be challenged in 2023 because capacity at Halifax's Scotiabank Centre is 11,093 and Moncton's Avenir Centre only holds 8,800 spectators. But both rinks are excellent facilities and there is little doubt fans in the region will match the boisterous atmosphere from 20 years ago. "Two decades after our region set the new standard for hosting this event, we can't wait to welcome the world back to the Maritimes for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship," Hockey Nova Scotia Executive Director Amy Walsh said in the news release. "While we are excited about what today's news means for hockey fans, we are thrilled about what the tournament will mean for the future of the game in our region. "Working alongside Hockey Canada and our partners at Hockey New Brunswick, we look forward to collaborating on a legacy plan that will build off the success of the event and make hockey more accessible for future generations of players in our respective provinces." This year's world juniors had to be called off after just a few days because of a COVID19 outbreak at the host sites in Alberta. Competition will be completed for that tournament in a few months in Edmonton. Mooseheads captain Elliot Desnoyers was one of the members of Team Canada. "We are pleased to be able to bring the 2023 World Juniors to Halifax and Moncton," IIHF president Luc Tardif said in a news release. "These are two great cities with top-quality venues and passionate hockey fans who support junior hockey. I commend Hockey Canada for finding two great hosts in such a short amount of time and am looking forward to the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship." Russia was originally supposed to host the 2023 tournament but the IIHF stripped the country of that privilege after the invasion of Ukraine. "Hosting the World Juniors twice in less than six months is a unique opportunity for our organization and Canadian hockey fans, and with the IIHF's need to find a host, we were in the position to entertain bids from passionate hockey communities across the country," Hockey Canada president and chief operating officer Scott Smith said in the news release. "We appreciate the hard work and efforts put forth by the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and we strongly believe in the plans they have in place to host a successful event in Halifax and Moncton. We know the work of the host committees and volunteers will leave a lasting impression on each community, the competing teams and the fans who will travel to experience this beston-best competition." Canada lost the 2003 gold medal game 3-2 to Russia in front of a raucous capacity crowd in Halifax. Among the stars who played in the game were Russia's Alexander Ovechkin and Canadian goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury was a member of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles at the time and is still active in the NHL with the Minnesota Wild. According to Sport Tourism Canada, the 2019 World Juniors in Vancouver generated an estimated economic impact of $44 million. "We are thrilled to host the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship at Scotiabank Centre and can't wait to welcome fans, players and teams from around the world," Scotiabank Centre President and CEO Carrie Cussons was quoted in the news release. "Hosting this event is a testament to Nova Scotia's reputation as a world-class event destination and we know our communities will be alive with excitement, creating an impact and legacy in our region for years to come."