The World Junior Hockey Championship is returning to B.C. next month, and Kelowna will be somewhat involved.
On Wednesday, the Kelowna Rockets announced that Prospera Place will be hosting a pre-tournament game between Russia and Sweden on Tuesday, December 18th. Game time will be 7 p.m.
Vancouver and Victoria will be co-hosting the tournament, which will run December 26th to January 5th.
“The Kelowna Rockets are very happy to be partnering with Hockey Canada and Prospera Place to bring this exciting game to Kelowna,” said Rockets president and general manager Bruce Hamilton, noting the match will be a bonus game for season-ticket holders. “Sweden and Russia are consistently two of the best teams in the world and for our fans, this game will be a real treat.”
“We are beyond thrilled to welcome the best junior players in the world to our province in December,” said Barry Petrachenko, CEO of B.C. Hockey and co-chair of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship. “We know from experience what hosting this event can mean for hockey in our region and we are confident this tournament will leave a lasting impact on the growth and development of the game here in British Columbia and specifically in Kelowna.”
This isn’t the first time the world juniors have come to Kelowna. For the 2006 tournament, Kelowna and Kamloops co-hosted the B pool while Vancouver hosted the A pool. Canada defeated Russia 5-0 in that final before a crowd of 18,630 at GM Place.
The biggest game in Kelowna at that tournament took place on December 31st, when Russia defeated the Czech Republic 7-2 before a crowd of 6,027. Russia’s top player at that tournament was Evgeni Malkin.
“Kelowna has a proven track record of hosting events of this caliber, and getting the chance to showcase the best junior players in the world on Canadian ice is something young fans will remember for a long time,” said Scott Smith, president of Hockey Canada.
Russia has won four gold medals at the IIHF World Junior Championship, last standing atop the podium at the 2011 World Juniors in Buffalo. Sweden has won gold twice, most recently at the 2012 World Juniors in Calgary and Edmonton.
Ticket on‑sale information will be released on Thursday.