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USA Hockey confirms US-Canada outdoor game when Buffalo hosts World Juniors

courtesy BuffaloBills.com

Buffalo's City Hall building appears front and center in the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship logo unveiled Friday. The big announcement, though, was that the outdoor game to be played at New Era Field, as part of the tournament, will be a matchup of hockey rivals Team USA and Team Canada.

USA Hockey officials, along with co-hosts the Buffalo Sabres, held a news conference inside the KeyBank Center to provide an update on preparations for Buffalo's second hosting of the World Junior Championships beginning December 2017.

The outdoor game at New Era Field was previously announced but it was not until this news conference that officials set a date and identified the teams. Team USA and Team Canada will skate in a preliminary round game on December 29.

"When you look at the scope of that rivalry, whether it's men's competition at any level, whether it is the perennial gold-medal game in the Sled Hockey Championships or Paralympic games, or the fierce duel that the women of the US and Canada have fought ever since 1998 at the first gold medal game at Nagano, we often seem to collide on the final day," said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey.

The Buffalo Sabres co-hosted the news conference and their owners, Terry and Kim Pegula, own the venues in which every game will be played. Mrs. Pegula

"We know this is something hockey fans always look forward to, a great rivalry amongst countries that are so close together," she said. "And I think every country that is going to be here always likes to see a great US and Canada game, especially in a big outdoor venue like that, knowing the fan base that we have here."

Canadians traveled to Buffalo by the thousands to see the 2011 tournament, in which their homeland won the silver medal (Russia won the gold, while the USA took bronze). But Canadian fans, to the disappointment of many, didn't stay as long as tourism leaders hoped for. 

Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO
USA Hockey and Buffalo Sabres officials pose for pictures after a news conference in KeyBank Center. Flanking them are Buffalo Sabres players Jack Eichel (left) and Sam Reinhart, who previously represented their homelands at the IIHF World Junior Championships.


The difference this time, hockey officials say, will be the development that has sprouted in downtown Buffalo since then.

"If you look back in 2011, when we hosted this event last time, it was a parking lot across the street," said Michael Gilbert, Vice President of Administration for the Buffalo Sabres. "Canalside didn't exist. A lot of bars and restaurants and entertainment that now exist in downtown Buffalo simply just wasn't here. I think as a city, we've come a long way. I think it will be a great opportunity to show some people from around the world, from Canada and other places, what Buffalo has to offer and how the new Buffalo has changed here over the last few years."

Also announced Friday were ticket packages that will go on sale to the general public beginning November 28 of this year. The packages range from $690 to $1,550, with the highest-end "gold" package providing access to all games in all venues. Sabres season ticket holders will have a chance to take advantage of a pre-sale beginning at 10 a.m. this Monday, October 31. Bills season ticket holders and those who use the My OneBuffalo app will be eligible for a pre-sale on November 16. 

More information on those ticket packages is available on the tournament's official website.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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