Less than a decade after hosting the 2011 World Junior Championship, the tournament is set to head back to Buffalo. According to multiple reports, USA Hockey is prepared to announce Buffalo as the host city for the 2018 world juniors, but there will also be an added wrinkle to the tournament.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the competition will also feature an outdoor game pitting Team USA against Canada.
TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported that tournament organizers are expecting a sold out crowd of roughly 71,000 to be in attendance for the contest. The outdoor game will be hosted at Ralph Wilson Stadium, which was the backdrop for the NHL’s inaugural Winter Classic game in 2008.
Organizers can’t be absolutely certain that the groups will break in such a way to have a USA-Canada clash in the round robin, but Seravalli reported the IIHF will allow the host city to petition to have one of the teams switch groups in order to set up the potential cross-border rivalry game. While that can’t assure the matchup will take place, it would make sense should the IIHF allow the switch in order for the game to take place considering the revenue it could generate for the tournament.
The Sabres’ home rink, the First Niagara Center, and the HarborCenter, home rink of the NWHL’s Buffalo Beauts, will play host to the remainder of the tournament’s contests,
according to Seravalli. Buffalo was one of five finalists hoping to host the tournament, and beat out Chicago, Tampa, Pittsburgh and St. Louis for the rights to the 2018 competition. Tournaments hosted in Canada and the United States have been some of the most well-attended in the history of the World Junior Championship. Over the past 16 world juniors — since the 2000 competition in Skelleftea, Sweden — North America and Europe/Russia have hosted eight tournaments apiece. When the tournament has been held in Canada or the United States, the average overall attendance has been roughly 333,300. Tournaments held overseas have averaged an attendance of 94,570. The outdoor game alone would bring the Buffalo tournament close to surpassing that average. When Buffalo hosted the tournament in 2011, the final attendance was nearly 330,000. The attendance record belongs to a joint effort by Calgary and Edmonton, which played host to the 2012 tournament and registered a total attendance of 455,342.