The anticipation is building in B.C. as this year’s IIHF World Junior Championship is fast approaching.
On Tuesday morning Premier John Horgan, as well as other notable individuals, were at The Q Centre in Colwood to launch the championship and recap BC Hockey’s Road to the World Juniors school tour.
Horgan, as well as Tourism Minister Lisa Beare and BC Hockey chief executive Barry Petrachenko, announced the start of the championship right before Team Canada’s selection camp began at The Q Centre.
“Every Canadian hockey fan knows what happens on Boxing Day,” Horgan said. “That’s when the World Juniors start and this year they’re going to be starting in Victoria and Vancouver and I can’t wait to get going.”
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 with Team Canada playing two pre-tournament games at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre on Dec. 19 and Dec. 21.
Organizers have said they expect full arenas for the games in Vancouver and Victoria with ticket demands exceeding expectations.
“While we knew fan interest would be there, demand for tickets surprised us as hosts,” Petrachenko said.
Both Petrachenko and Horgan noted the championship truly became a province-wide event with the Road to the World Juniors school tour.
The tour brought World Junior Championship excitement to 39 schools across the province, including David Cameron Elementary School in Langford.
Students engaged in floorball demonstrations and BC Hockey donated two sets of floorball equipment to each school.
“It’s been such a positive event to be a part of,” Petrachenko said. “To be able to have that type of atmosphere and leave a bit of a gift was important to us.”
Terry Honer, the principal of David Cameron, said about 250 students were able to gather in the gym and get active while learning about floorball alongside Westshore Wolves players.
“My business is in education and they say good teachers teach and great teachers inspire,” Honer said. “[It’s all] part and parcel of what our students got to experience when the association came around.”
Before the players took to The Q Centre ice on Tuesday, Horgan, Honer and Beare demonstrated their floorball skills and took shots on Celly, the BC Hockey Spirit Bear mascot.
Team Canada’s final 22-player roster will be chosen out of 19 forwards, 12 defencemen and three goalies. The team will play three games this week against U Sports on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday night before the final roster is chosen.
Pre-tournament games will be held in Kelowna, Port Alberni, Nanaimo, Langley, Victoria, Kamloops, Chilliwack, Burnaby and Vancouver.
The IIHF World Junior Championship will kick off on Boxing Day and run until Jan. 5, 2019.