After 2021’s tournament was played in a bubble, and 2022’s tournament had to be cancelled and restarted, all due to COVID-19, the International Ice Hockey Federation will attempt the first full tournament in front of fans since 2020 will start on 26 December in Atlantic Canada, with Halifax, Nova Scotia and Moncton, New Brunswick serving as co-hosts.
Group A, hosted in Halifax, will feature the home team, defending champions Canada, opening their title defence on Boxing Day against Czechia, with Sweden, Germany and Austria rounding out the group. New Year’s Eve will feature Canada against Sweden, with the winner likely to clinch the top spot in the Group, while the Czechs and Germans will jockey for position to avoid facing the winner of Group B. Austria will likely need a miracle to avoid going to the relegation round, with Norway eagerly awaiting to see who they will replace in 2024.
Group B, hosted in Moncton, sees defending Silver medallists Finland, 2021 champions the United States, Switzerland, Slovakia and Latvia facing off, with a similar New Year’s Eve showdown between the Americans and Finns likely crowning the winner of Group B. Switzerland and Slovakia will look to surprise, with the latter in particular carrying a number of future NHL stars, while plucky Latvia will look to not only avoid relegation, but perhaps sneak their way into the medal rounds.
Click here to see the full 2023 World Junior Championship schedule
From the perspective of the IHLC, a few interesting facts related to this year’s World Junior Championship:
– Canada enters as incumbent champions for the first time since 2021, for the eleventh time in history, and sixth time in history as host (1995, 2006, 2009, 2010, 2021)
– this is the seventeenth World Junior Championship to be hosted in Canada; Halifax is hosting for the second, previously serving as a co-host with Sydney, Nova Scotia in 2003, won by Russia
– Canada is looking to win back to back Gold for the first time since winning five straight between 2005 and 2009, and their twentieth Championship overall
– Halifax and Moncton were named as co-hosts of this tournament after the original hosts, Omsk and Novosibirsk, Russia, were stripped of hosting duties by the IIHF on 28 February following the Russian invasion of Ukraine
– Canada is looking to win Gold on home ice for the second straight year, and for the third time in Eastern Canada (2009 in Ottawa, 2015 in Toronto)
– the only returning tournament all-stars from 2022 is Canada’s Olen Zellweger and Finland’s Joakim Kemell
After yesterday’s exhibition victory over Finland, Canada will enter the tournament with the International Hockey Lineal Championship, ensuring that the title will run through Group A in Halifax – who leaves Atlantic Canada with the title, and ostensibly World Junior Championship Gold, remains to be seen!