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Buffalo wins bid to host 2018 World Junior Championships; outdoor component at Ralph expected

Multiple sources confirm to The Buffalo News today that Buffalo has won the bid to serve as host of the 2018 World Junior Championships -- making the city the first American locale to host the top under-20 tourney in the world twice.

The city hosted the 2011 event, won by Russia over Canada in a stunning gold-medal game, and USA Hockey will make it official the tourney is returning here during a press conference Friday afternoon at 3 on the 18-yard-line of Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo was chosen over bids from Pittsburgh and St. Louis.

Terry Pegula, Sabres/Bills owner, and Russ Brandon, president of the franchises, will be joined at the news conference by USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean, assistant Mike Bertsch and president Jim Smith. The news conference will be televised on NHL Network and also streamed live at NHL.com and USAHockey.com.

The 18-yard-line, of course, gives some cute symbolism but why the Ralph and not have the announcement in First Niagara Center or HarborCenter, which is expected to host secondary games?

Because a major twist in Buffalo's bid is expected to be using the Ralph to host a game in the tourney, perhaps the showcase New Year's Eve event that is the highlight of pool play. There is no guarantee that would be a USA-Canada game because those teams may not play in the opening round (they didn't when the tournament was last here).

Terry and Kim Pegula have openly stumped for the NHL to give Buffalo the 2018 Winter Classic to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the Sabres' momentous game against the Pittsburgh Penguins outdoors in the snow of Orchard Park on Jan. 1, 2008.

The 2008 NHL Winter Classic was played between the Sabres and the Penguins on on a picture-perfect winter day at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News file photo)

The 2008 NHL Winter Classic was played between the Sabres and the Penguins on on a picture-perfect winter day at Ralph Wilson Stadium. (Harry Scull Jr./Buffalo News file photo)

The NHL has not yet awarded the 2017 Winter Classic, although it's expected to be hosted by Toronto at BMO Field as part of the Leafs' 100th anniversary celebration. The 2018 game conceivably could be hosted in Orchard Park one day after an outdoor World Junior game.

And here's another point: Jan. 1 is traditionally an off day on the World Juniors schedule. The Sabres, in fact, played Boston on Jan. 1, 2011 in First Niagara Center so that they wouldn't endure a two-week road trip the last time  the tournament was here.

When the tournament was here last, Niagara University's Dwyer Arena served as the secondary site for games. HarborCenter was just a parking lot and is now the natural site for those contests, with its 2,000-seat main rink.

The 2016 World Juniors will be in Finland while the 2017 event will be co-hosted by Montreal and Toronto. Previous American hosts were Minneapolis (1982), Anchorage (1989), Boston (1996), Grand Forks, N.D. (2005) and Buffalo.

The last two game-winning goals in the gold-medal contest have been scored by Sabres, with Rasmus Ristolainen tallying for Finland in overtime in 2014 in Malmo, Sweden, and Sam Reinhart notching the eventual winner for Team Canada in January over Russia in Toronto.

Current Sabre Marcus Foligno played on the '11 Canada squad here that won the silver after blowing a 3-0 lead in the third period and falling to Russia, 5-3, in the gold medal affair. That Russian team included St. Louis star Vladimir Tarasenko and current Chicago rookie sensation Artemi Panarin. Team Canada was coached in that tournament by current Ottawa Senators boss Dave Cameron, then a junior coach in Canada.


 

Cities where the World Juniors have been held:
1977: Banksa Bystrica, Czechoslovakia
1978: Montreal
1979: Karlstad, Sweden
1980: Helsinki, Finland
1981: Fussen, Germany
1982: Minneapolis
1983: Leningrad, Soviet Union
1984: Norrkoping, Sweden
1985: Helsinki/Turku, Finland
1986: Hamilton, Canada
1987: Piestany, Czechoslovakia
1988: Moscow, Soviet Union
1989: Anchorage
1990: Helsinki/Turku, Finland
1991: Saskatoon, Canada
1992: Fussen, Germany
1993: Gavle, Sweden
1994: Ostrava, Czech Republic
1995: Red Deer, Canada
1996: Boston
1997: Geneva, Switzerland
1998: Helsinki, Finland
1999: Winnipeg, Canada
2000: Skelleftea, Sweden
2001: Moscow, Russia
2002: Pardubice, Czech Republic
2003: Halifax, Canada
2004: Helsinki, Finalnd
2005: Grand Forks
2006: Vancouver, Canada
2007: Leksand, Sweden
2008: Pardubice, Czech Republic
2009: Ottawa, Canada
2010: Saskatoon, Canada
2011: Buffalo
2012: Calgary/Edmonton, Canada
2013: Ufa, Russia
2014: Malmo, Sweden
2015: Toronto/Montreal, Canada
2016: Helsinki, Finland
2017: Montreal/Toronto, Canada
2018: Buffalo
2019: Canada (host TBA)
2020: Czech Republic (host TBA)
2021: Canada (host TBA)

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