Every Boxing Day hockey fans rejoice as the IIHF World Junior Championship kicks off and this year, the excitement has come right to Victoria.
Thousands gathered at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre Wednesday afternoon to watch team USA face off against Slovakia.
The streets surrounding the centre were packed with vehicles as parking lots in the area filled up quickly.
Many last-minute ticket buyers lined up at the arena to make sure they had a chance to catch the action.
Kayla Aspelund and Nathaniel Cook were gifted tickets to the game and Aspelund said she was excited to be able to see it.
“I remember, as long as I can remember, watching the World Juniors on Boxing Day,” Aspelund said. “Now that it’s here it’s really cool that we get to actually go.”
Cook, originally from Wales, recently became a Canadian citizen and while he doesn’t love hockey as much as Aspelund, he said he’s learning about it.
The championship has also had a hand in forming new friendships in Victoria.
Jean Campbell and Mike Morrison are both Victoria residents who ran into a man named Geoff Finn at a pub before the game.
Finn is from New Brunswick and was in Victoria to visit family and go to the game. The three of them posed for photos in Team Canada and Slovakia jerseys in front of the centre before the game began.
“It’s awesome that Victoria is getting to be showcased on a world scene,” Campbell said. “It’s an amazing place to be and we’re so excited to welcome the world here.”
The last time B.C. hosted the World Junior Championship was in 2006 in Vancouver when Canada won gold.
This year, games will be taking place in both Vancouver and Victoria.
Organizers have said they expect full arenas for the games in Vancouver and Victoria with ticket demands exceeding expectations.
The IIHF World Junior Championship will run until Jan. 5, 2019.