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Buffalo in mix for World Juniors in 2018

Buffalo in ‘Junior’ mix

USA Hockey announced Tuesday that Buffalo is one of five finalists to host the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.

The other finalists for the event commonly referred to as the “World Juniors” are Chicago, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Tampa.

Buffalo hosted the World Juniors in 2011 at First Niagara Center and Niagara University’s Dwyer Arena. Russia defeated Canada in overtime in the championship game.

The annual championship, which features 10 nations and many future NHL stars, is conducted in late December/early January each year. It includes the top male players in the world under the age of 20. Thirty-one games are played in the championship over a 2½-week stretch with worldwide television coverage, including the NHL Network.

“We had interest of varying levels from more than a dozen entities,” said Mike Bertsch, assistant executive director of marketing, communications and events for USA Hockey said in a release. “In the end, we’re extremely pleased with the group of finalists. The time and effort each put into the materials that were submitted is impressive and we look forward to continued conversations with each of the finalists.”

Bertsch noted USA Hockey will have the host selected by the end of the year. “We’ll likely further narrow the field in the next 60 days and then conduct in-person visits before making a final decision.”

The 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship will be staged in Helsinki, Finland, while the 2017 event will take place in Toronto and Montreal.