Everything you need to know about the World Juniors in Vancouver

Dec 18 2018, 7:44 am

The one-week countdown to the start of the 2019 IIHF World Junior Championship in Vancouver and Victoria is on.

The annual international tournament is never short on drama or emotion, which is why this is always a highly anticipated time of year for hockey fans.

Here’s everything you need to know about this year’s tournament, which begins on Boxing Day.

10 countries competing

Ten countries will be split up into two five-team groups for preliminary round robin play from December 26 to 31.

Group A will play games at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, while Group B prelim games will be hosted at the Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria.

The marquee matchup of opening round is Canada vs Russia at Rogers Arena on New Year’s Eve.

See also

Tournament format

Unlike the NHL, the IIHF uses a three-point system for preliminary round games, placing greater emphasis on winning games in 60-minute regulation time:

  • Regulation win = 3 points
  • Overtime or shootout win = 2 points
  • Overtime or shootout loss = 1 point
  • Regulation loss = 0 points

If a game is tied after 60 minutes during round robin play, teams will play a five-minute three-on-three sudden death overtime period, followed by a five-player shootout if necessary. If the teams are still tied after the first five shooters, any subsequent shot can be taken by anyone on the team (including repeat shooters).

The tie-breaking procedure is different during the knockout round, with one 10-minute four-on-four sudden death overtime period taking place before going to a shootout, except for the gold medal game, in which case a 20-minute four-on-four OT takes place.

The top four countries in each group will advance to the quarter-finals, played in Vancouver and Victoria on January 2. Qualifying teams will cross-over to play teams from the opposing group, (ie. the first-place team in Group A plays the fourth-place team from Group B).

Both semi-final games will be played in Vancouver on January 4, while the gold medal game is scheduled for January 5.

The last-place teams in each group will play a best-of-three relegation series, with the loser being bumped from next year’s tournament.

World class talent

The World Juniors is an under-20 tournament featuring the best teenaged hockey stars in the world, aside from junior-aged players already in the NHL.

Many of the game’s greatest players have featured in this tournament before going on to become NHL superstars, including Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, and Connor McDavid.

A player to watch at this year’s tournament is Jack Hughes, the American centre expected to be picked first overall at the 2019 NHL Draft. His brother Quinn is one of up to four Canucks players in the tournament, including goaltender Michael DiPietro (Canada), defenceman Toni Utunen (Finland), and forward Tyler Madden (USA).


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Toronto Maple Leafs prospect Ian Scott will battle DiPietro for minutes in net. Two Montreal Canadiens prospects are on Team Canada, in Nick Suzuki and Josh Brook.

The odds-on favourite to be drafted first overall in 2020, 17-year-old forward Alexis Lafreniere, has made Team Canada. Lafreniere will become the ninth-youngest player to ever play for Canada.

Events around town

TransLink has declared Friday “Jersey Day” in Vancouver.

You can meet former Vancouver Canucks centre (and 2003 World Junior silver medallist) Kyle Wellwood and get your picture taken with the championship trophy on Friday. The photo op is presented by Molson Canadian and taking place at four BC Liquor Stores:

  • 3:00 pm – 4:30 pm at 5555 Cambie St.
  • 4:45 pm – 6:15 pm at 3150 E. Broadway
  • 6:30 pm – 8 pm at 3436 Kingsway

The official World Juniors After Party is taking place on December 30 at the Commodore Ballroom, featuring JUNO Award-winning band The Glorious Sons.


Pre-tournament games have already begun. They’re taking place in nine different cities across British Columbia.

Of note, Quinn Hughes and Team USA visit Langley on December 22, while Canada plays their lone tune up game in Vancouver on December 23 against Finland.

Pre-tournament games:

Date Game Venue
Tue, Dec 18 Russia vs Sweden Prospera Place (Kelowna)
Wed, Dec 19 Kazakhstan vs Alberni Valley Weyerhaeuser Arena (Port Alberni)
Wed, Dec 19 Czech Republic vs Slovakia Frank Crane Arena (Nanaimo)
Wed, Dec 19 Denmark vs Finland Langley Events Centre (Langley)
Wed, Dec 19 Canada vs Switzerland Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre (Victoria)
Thu, Dec 20 Russia vs USA Sandman Centre (Kamloops)
Fri, Dec 21 Kazakhstan vs Switzerland Weyerhaeuser Arena (Port Alberni)
Fri, Dec 21 Canada vs Slovakia Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre (Victoria)
Sat, Dec 22 Denmark vs Sweden Prospera Centre (Chilliwack)
Sat, Dec 22 USA vs Czech Republic Langley Events Centre (Langley)
Sun, Dec 23 Switzerland vs Russia Bill Copeland Arena (Burnaby)
Sun, Dec 23 Canada vs Finland Rogers Arena (Vancouver)

Group A games (Vancouver):

Date Time Location Game
Wed, Dec 26 1:00 PM Vancouver Czech Rep vs Switzerland
Wed, Dec 26 5:00 PM Vancouver Canada vs Denmark
Thu, Dec 27 1:00 PM Vancouver Russia vs Denmark
Thu, Dec 27 5:00 PM Vancouver Switzerland vs Canada
Fri, Dec 28 5:00 PM Vancouver Czech Rep vs Russia
Sat, Dec 29 1:00 PM Vancouver Denmark vs Switzerland
Sat, Dec 29 5:00 PM Vancouver Canada vs Czech Rep
Sun, Dec 30 5:00 PM Vancouver Switzerland vs Russia
Mon, Dec 31 1:00 PM Vancouver Denmark vs Czech Rep
Mon, Dec 31 5:00 PM Vancouver Russia vs Canada

Group B games (Victoria): 

Date Time Location Game
Wed, Dec 26 3:30 PM Victoria USA vs Slovakia
Wed, Dec 26 7:30 PM Victoria Finland vs Sweden
Thu, Dec 27 3:30 PM Victoria Slovakia vs Sweden
Thu, Dec 27 7:30 PM Victoria Finland vs Kazakhstan
Fri, Dec 28 7:30 PM Victoria Kazakhstan vs USA
Sat, Dec 29 3:30 PM Victoria Slovakia vs Finland
Sat, Dec 29 7:30 PM Victoria Sweden vs USA
Sun, Dec 30 7:30 PM Victoria Kazakhstan vs Slovakia
Mon, Dec 31 3:30 PM Victoria Sweden vs Kazakhstan
Mon, Dec 31 7:30 PM Victoria USA vs Finland

Knockout round games:

Date Time Location Game
Wed, Jan 2 11:00 AM Vancouver Relegation
Wed, Jan 2 1:00 PM Victoria Quarter-final
Wed, Jan 2 3:30 PM Vancouver Quarter-final
Wed, Jan 2 5:00 PM Victoria Quarter-final
Wed, Jan 2 7:30 PM Vancouver Quarter-final
Fri, Jan 4 9:00 AM Vancouver Relegation
Fri, Jan 4 1:00 PM Vancouver Semi-final
Fri, Jan 4 5:00 PM Vancouver Semi-final
Sat, Jan 5 9:00 AM Vancouver Relegation
Sat, Jan 5 1:00 PM Vancouver Bronze medal
Sat, Jan 5 5:00 PM Vancouver Gold medal

Tickets for the most in-demand games like Canada-Russia on New Year’s Eve and the gold medal game are sold out. Many other good seats are still available for games through Hockey Canada’s website (prices vary).

Tournament history

Canada is the most successful country in the history of the World Juniors, but winning gold is not a certainty.

Our country has won the gold medal 17 times since the inaugural tournament in 1977. The Soviet Union/Russia is next with 13. No other country has won more than four times.

Canada won gold last year, defeating Sweden in the gold medal game in dramatic fashion, but has won the tournament just twice in the last nine years.

Vancouver has hosted once before, in 2006. Canada won gold that year with a team featuring the likes of Jonathan Toews, Kris Letang, Marc Staal, and Luc Bourdon.

Year Gold Silver Bronze Host city
1977 Soviet Union Canada Czechoslovakia B. Bystrica
1978 Soviet Union Sweden Canada Montreal
1979 Soviet Union Czechoslovakia Sweden Karlstad
1980 Soviet Union Finland Sweden Helsinki
1981 Sweden Finland Soviet Union FĂŒssen
1982 Canada Czechoslovakia Finland Minnesota
1983 Soviet Union Czechoslovakia Canada Leningrad
1984 Soviet Union Finland Czechoslovakia Norrköping
1985 Canada Czechoslovakia Soviet Union Helsinki
1986 Soviet Union Canada USA Hamilton
1987 Finland Czechoslovakia Sweden Piestany
1988 Canada Soviet Union Finland Moscow
1989 Soviet Union Sweden Czechoslovakia Anchorage
1990 Canada Soviet Union Czechoslovakia Helsinki
1991 Canada Soviet Union Czechoslovakia Saskatoon
1992 Soviet Union Sweden USA FĂŒssen
1993 Canada Sweden Czechoslovakia GĂ€vle
1994 Canada Sweden Russia Ostrava
1995 Canada Russia Sweden Alberta
1996 Canada Sweden Russia Boston
1997 Canada USA Russia Geneva
1998 Finland Russia Switzerland Helsinki
1999 Russia Canada Slovakia Winnipeg
2000 Czech Republic Russia Canada Skelleftea
2001 Czech Republic Finland Canada Moscow
2002 Russia Canada Finland Pardubice
2003 Russia Canada Finland Halifax
2004 USA Canada Finland Helsinki
2005 Canada Russia Czech Republic Grand Forks
2006 Canada Russia Finland Vancouver
2007 Canada Russia USA Leksand/Mora
2008 Canada Sweden Russia Pardubice
2009 Canada Sweden Russia Ottawa
2010 USA Canada Sweden Saskatoon
2011 Russia Canada USA Buffalo
2012 Sweden Russia Canada Calgary/Edmonton
2013 USA Sweden Russia Ufa
2014 Finland Sweden Russia Malmö
2015 Canada Russia Slovakia Toronto/Montreal
2016 Finland Russia USA Helsinki
2017 USA Canada Russia Montreal/Toronto
2018 Canada Sweden USA Buffalo
See also
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