It is the second time in history that the World Juniors will take place in the Western province of British Columbia. In 2006, Vancouver co-hosted the tournament along with Kelowna and Kamloops. That year, Victoria, the provincial capital, got two exhibition games (USA-Sweden and Sweden-Norway) at Bear Mountain Arena.
The announcement came at Rogers Arena, the site of the 2010 Olympic hockey tournament (known then as “Canada Hockey Place”). Also the home of the Vancouver Canucks, it will host 19 games, including the medal round.
“This is symbolic of what the game should really be at the end of the day – the experience of a lifetime,” said Hockey Canada CEO Tom Renney. “We want to make it an athletic experience like none other, so that children continue to want to try to play hockey. That is the bigger game we play.”
The Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre will host 14 games in Victoria. The 2005-completed building, with a capacity of 7,400, is home to the WHL’s Victoria Royals.
“It was just an automatic to go to Victoria,” said Barry Petrachenko, the Victoria-based CEO of BC Hockey and a co-chair of the organizing committee along with Vancouver Giants majority owner Ron Toigo. “I think it’s going to mean a lot to the city. Victoria is a hockey town, and it’ll be great to bring this event to our city.”
Toigo reminisced nostalgically about Canada’s second straight gold medal in 2006 under head coach Brent Sutter: “To win in the manner they did – in this building here, against Russia, 5-0 – it was just a great experience for everybody. When that was over, we said: ‘That was a lot of fun. We’d like to do this again.’”
The 2006 tournament enjoyed a then-record attendance of 325,138. The current record is 455,342 from the 2012 tournament in Edmonton and Calgary.
Others on hand for the announcement included Hockey Canada COO Scott Smith, acting Vancouver mayor Raymond Louie, British Columbia deputy premier Rich Coleman, and Vancouver Canucks president and 1988 World Junior gold medalist Trevor Linden.
Coleman said the provincial government would provide $2.3 million CAD to the tournament, with $300,000 allocated for legacy programs for BC youth hockey. As in 2006, the government will also supply a $10-million guarantee to the event.
“Last time, it wasn’t called on because of TV revenues and the success in Vancouver,” said Coleman. “It was never touched. But for the success of an event like this, it’s important to know that governments will step up and be partners.
Vancouver and Victoria beat out three strong competing bids: Edmonton-Calgary, London-Windsor, and Winnipeg-Saskatoon.
“When you put on an international event of this magnitude, everybody’s wearing Canadian jerseys,” Toigo said. “Everybody’s proud of being Canadian. It’s just a real good event for the community at large. It’s good for the economy as well.”
The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship will also take place in Canada. Sites will be announced at a future date.