Halifax and Moncton, N.B., will play host to the 2023 World Junior Ice Hockey Championship following a successful joint bid from the two Maritime cities.
Hockey Canada said in a release Thursday afternoon that the decision to award hosting rights was made in partnership with the Canadian Hockey League and the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), which approved hosting rights to Canada.
“We appreciate the hard work and efforts put forth by the provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and we strongly believe in the plans they have in place to host a successful event in Halifax and Moncton,” said Scott Smith, the president and chief operating officer of Hockey Canada.
“We know the work of the host committees and volunteers will leave a lasting impression on each community, the competing teams and the fans who will travel to experience this best-on-best competition.”
In the release, IIHF president Luc Tardif said the organization was “pleased” to bring the World Juniors to Halifax and Moncton.
“These are two great cities with top-quality venues and passionate hockey fans who support junior hockey,” said Tardif. “I commend Hockey Canada for finding two great hosts in such a short amount of time, and am looking forward to the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.”
This gives Canada the unique distinction of hosting the event twice in a span of four months.
The tournament is scheduled to be played from Dec. 26, 2022 to Jan. 5, 2023, just four months after the 2022 championships are expected to take place in Edmonton. The games will be held at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax and the Avenir Centre in Moncton.
“Hosting the World Juniors twice in less than six months is a unique opportunity for our organization and Canadian hockey fans, and with the IIHF’s need to find a host, we were in the position to entertain bids from passionate hockey communities across the country,” said Smith.
The 2023 championships were originally supposed to take place in Russia, but the IIHF revoked its hosting rights amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The provincial governments of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick announced at the start of April that they would submit a joint bid to host the tournament, competing against similar joint bids from Saskatoon and Regina, Ottawa and Quebec and London and the Waterloo region.
Hockey Canada said ticket information will be announced at a later date, but people can enter the 2023 World Juniors priority draw on the Hockey Canada website for their chance to purchase tickets when they become available.
During a news conference Thursday, Smith said which teams and where they will be playing will be selected after the 2022 championships.
‘Ready to roll out the welcome mat’
Nova Scotia previously hosted the world junior’s event in 2003, and in April, Premier Tim Houston said “Nova Scotians are ready to do it again.”
On Thursday, Houston said in the release that the province was “thrilled” to host again, and said the 2023 championships “will be the best tournament to date.”
“We are ready to roll out the welcome mat for the players, their families and visiting fans; I’ll be in the arena with thousands of Nova Scotians, cheering at each and every game,” said Houston.
Amy Walsh, the executive director of Hockey Nova Scotia, said the organization is working alongside Hockey Canada and Hockey New Brunswick to create a legacy plan “that will build off the success of the event and make hockey more accessible for future generations of players in our respective provinces.”
“Two decades after our region set the new standard for hosting this event, we can’t wait to welcome the world back to the Maritimes for the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship,” she said.
“While we are excited about what today’s news means for hockey fans, we are thrilled about what the tournament will mean for the future of the game in our region.”
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs said he was excited to partner with Nova Scotia to host the event.
“This world-class event will showcase our province and our region, and we will provide an unforgettable experience for both New Brunswickers and those visiting,” he said. “We look forward to hosting the players and their families.”
E. Todd Pye, the president of Hockey New Brunswick, said it was an “honour and a pleasure” to host the championships alongside neighbouring Nova Scotia.
“Our strong partnership will enable us to deliver an outstanding event for all players, families and spectators who come to Moncton and Halifax,” said Pye.
This will be the biggest major sports event to take place in the Maritimes since before the pandemic.
Halifax and Truro were supposed to host the IIHF’s Women’s World Championship in 2020 and 2021, but it was cancelled both times due to COVID-19.
Smith said the cancellation of the women’s event was a “significant part of our discussions” in planning the 2023 world juniors.
The 2022 world juniors in Red Deer, Alta., and Edmonton were cancelled in December after COVID-19 outbreaks sidelined several teams at the tournament.
Edmonton’s Rogers Place is serving as the host for a restarted tournament from Aug. 9-20, in partnership with the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers.
Hockey Canada said that the results of December’s games will not be carried over to this summer’s world juniors. Players born in 2002 or later will remain eligible to represent their respective countries.
Hockey Canada has hosted the International Ice Hockey Federation-sanctioned event championship 15 times since its official debut in 1977.
— with files from The Canadian Press