See you in Alberta

Groups for 2012 World U20 Championship known

05.01.2011
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Calgary’s Saddledome will host the gold medal game of the World U20 Championship in a year. Photo courtesy of Hockey Canada

BUFFALO – A great World U20 Championship has come to an end in Buffalo, but in less than one year’s time the best juniors in the world will meet in Calgary and Edmonton.

With the conclusion of the 2011 gold medal game, the final ranking for 2011 and the preliminary-round groups for the 2012 IIHF World U20 Championship in the Canadian province of Alberta have been determined:

<table><tbody><tr><td>Group A in Calgary
</td><td width="5"> 
</td><td>Group B in Edmonton</td></tr><tr><td>Russia (1)</td><td></td><td>Canada (2)</td></tr><tr><td>Sweden (4)</td><td></td><td>United States (3)</td></tr><tr><td>Switzerland (5)</td><td></td><td>Finland (6)</td></tr><tr><td>Slovakia (8)</td><td></td><td>Czech Republic (7)</td></tr><tr><td>Latvia (9)</td><td></td><td>Denmark (10)</td></tr></tbody></table>
Host nation Canada will play Group B in Edmonton against the United States, Finland, the Czech Republic and Denmark in the 16,839-seat Rexall Place in Edmonton.

The Rexall Place is the home of the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers and the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings. Seven Stanley Cup final series took place in this arena and the Millenium Place with its two rinks will serve as an additional practice facility.

The other group involves new world champion Russia together with Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia and Latvia. Group A as well as the final round and relegation round will take place in the 19,289-seat Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary.

The Saddledome was built in 1983 for the new NHL franchise, the Calgary Flames, and the 1988 Olympic Winter Games. It is also home to the WHL’s Calgary Hitmen.

The Canada Olympic Park with an Olympic-size arena for 2,500 spectators (to open in September 2011) and three NHL-size rinks will be used as a practice facility and offer flexible practice time for the teams.

The event marks the first time the “World Juniors” are hosted in two NHL arenas.

The season ticket holders from the two NHL franchises and from the two junior teams had the chance to purchase tickets before the priority ticket draw started for other fans who want to buy ticket packages for Calgary (21 games) or Edmonton (10 games).

Attention: The registration will close on the day after the gold medal game in Buffalo, on January 6th at noon Mountain Time.

For more information about the 2012 IIHF World U20 Championship and ticket packages, visit www.hockeycanada.ca/2012juniors

“The numbers are way beyond our wildest expectations. We tried to find the fairest way for all Albertans, Canadians and fans worldwide to buy packages,” said Al Coates, Executive Director of the host organizing committee. “We believe that all packages in Calgary and Edmonton will be sold out, and we’re working on a strategy to make sure all seats will be filled for every game.”

The event will certainly set a new World U20 attendance record, surpassing Ottawa 2009’s total attendance of 453,282.

The organizers prepare for this event well in advance. Eleven of its members travelled to Buffalo to observe with lot of praise how the event was run at HSBC Arena and to meet with IIHF representatives.

It’s not the first time the event takes place in Alberta, but Edmonton lost an earlier bid – that’s why these two NHL markets came together for the “Alberta United” bid.

Pre-competition camps and exhibition games are planned in other communities in the Province of Alberta prior to the start of the World U20 Championship to showcase the teams also in other areas.

There will also be other opportunities for fans who cannot attend the games at the arena. “We’re working in engaging the communities in Alberta for special events for fans and have established a separate committee for this,” Coates said.

The host organizing committee involves numerous organizations and representatives from Hockey Canada, its branch Hockey Alberta, the NHL teams Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers, the junior teams Calgary Hitmen and Edmonton Oil Kings, the Canadian Hockey League and the tourism authorities of Alberta and the host cities.

“The NHL teams own junior teams as well and they want to drive junior hockey business. They want more kids to play hockey and to buy tickets once they earn money,” Coates explains the big interest from the NHL franchises in bringing the event to Alberta and succeeding the Sabres’ success with hosting the event this winter.

Even before the preliminary-round groups have been known, selling tickets didn’t seem to be an issue in Canada.

“It has become an annual get-together after Christmas,” Coates aid. “We saw in Buffalo the total frenzy of Canadian fans crossing the borders and sometimes spending two hours at the border. There’s lot of excitement and the Canadians are anticipating for Alberta 2012.”

The next IIHF World U20 Championships:

2012: Canada (Calgary, Edmonton)
2013: Russia (Ufa)
2014: Sweden (venues TBA)
2015: Canada (venues TBA)

MARTIN MERK

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