Pittsburgh has been named a finalist to host the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship. The prestigious tournament features 10 teams of players under the age of 20. Most NHL players, including the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marc-Andre Fleury, represented their country at the WJC.
The other four finalists are St. Louis, Missouri; Chicago, Illinois; Buffalo, New York and Tampa, Florida. The tournament is held in late December and early January every year, with the 2018 tournament beginning in December of 2017.
“We had interest of varying levels from more than a dozen entities,” said Mike Bertsch, assistant executive director of marketing, communications and events for USA Hockey. “In the end, we’re extremely pleased with the group of finalists. The time and effort each put into the materials that were submitted is impressive and we look forward to continued conversations with each of the finalists.”
The host city will be selected from the five finalists by the end of the year.
“We’ll likely further narrow the field in the next 60 days and then conduct in-person visits before making a final decision,” Bertsch said.
The tournament has been held in the United States five times in the past, most recently in Buffalo in 2011.
The 2016 tournament will be held in Helsinki, Finland. The 2017 tournament is being co-hosted by the Canadian cities of Toronto and Montreal.
If Pittsburgh does get the bid, Consol Energy Center would likely host the majority of the 31 games, but all recent tournaments have had a second rink as well.
Wheeling, West Virginia’s WesBanco Arena (5,406 seats), Youngstown, Ohio’s Covelli Centre (5,717 seasts), Johnstown’s Cambria County War Memorial Arena (4,001 seats) and Penn State’s Pegula Ice Arena (6,014 seats) could all be candidates to co-host.
The United States last won the tournament in 2013, when Pittsburgh-area natives J.T. Miller, John Gibson, Vince Trocheck and Riley Barber led the U.S. to a gold-medal win over Sweden. Gibson was named the tournament’s MVP.
Photo credit: IIHF