For the second time in tournament history, the World Junior A Challenge is coming to Alberta, as Hockey Canada announced Bonnyville as the host of the 2016 edition.
The 2016 World Junior A Challenge is a partnership between Hockey Canada, the Canadian Junior Hockey League (CJHL), the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL), the National Hockey League (NHL), and Hockey Alberta, as well as the local host committee and community volunteers. As in past years, the event will feature two Canadian teams – Team Canada East and Team Canada West – and four international entries.
“Alberta last hosted the World Junior A Challenge in 2008 in Camrose, and Hockey Canada, the CJHL, and the NHL are looking forward to working with the AJHL and Hockey Alberta to bring the event back to the province,” said Dean McIntosh, senior director of events and properties for Hockey Canada. “In addition to the sports and entertainment value, the World Junior A Challenge’s economic impact to its host community and province has historically been over $2 million. And the proceeds from the event go back into supporting hockey locally, and across the country.”
The World Junior A Challenge host committee in Bonnyville is in place, and has recently welcomed B&R Eckel’s Transport as its presenting sponsor.
"We are ecstatic to be hosting the World Junior A Challenge," said Gene Sobolewski, Mayor of Bonnyville. "We are a community that is very proud of our commitment to Junior A hockey and celebrate our decades of hockey history. Our region is ready to host the world."
“Our group is excited about the opportunity to bring an elite level of hockey to the area, and about the economic spinoff of the event,” said Robb Hunter, co-chair of the local host committee. “Bonnyville has a strong history of supporting junior and senior hockey, and that passion and support will make for a tremendous host community for the event. We’ve had early support from community leaders in the Town and Municipal District of Bonnyville, and we’re now looking for volunteers to join us in making this an event that shows the world what great hosts and hockey fans are in Bonnyville.”
Team Canada West won gold at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge in Cobourg and Whitby, Ont., defeating Russia in the final in front of a capacity crowd. Since the first World Junior A Challenge in 2006, more than 230 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament.
“We’ve seen the World Junior A Challenge grow in its fan following, and the incredible talent that takes part. This is a must-see event in sport entertainment, and we know that fans won’t be disappointed,” said Kirk Lamb, president of the Canadian Junior Hockey League. “We look forward to working with our partners and the host committee and volunteers in Bonnyville to make this event a success for participating teams, and the fans who come out to cheer them on.”
Eight of the 10 gold-medal games at the World Junior A Challenge have featured at least one Canadian team. Team Canada West won gold at the first two tournaments, in 2006 and 2007, and also took the top prize in 2011 and 2015. The team earned silver in 2008, 2009, and 2012, and won bronze in 2013. Team Canada East earned silver medals in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011, and claimed bronze in 2008.
For more information on the 2016 World Junior A Challenge, please visit HockeyCanada.ca/WJAC, or follow along via social media on Facebook and Twitter.