Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament
The Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (also known as the U-18 Junior World Cup and formerly known as the Pacific Cup and the Nations Cup) is an annual event held each August for national under-18 ice hockey teams from around the world. Unsanctioned by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF), the tournament is not granted official status by the sport's governing body. The IIHF's official under-18 tournament is held annually eight months later.
Beginning in 1991, the competition was held in Japan for the first three years, as well as the fifth. In its first year, it was known as the Phoenix Cup, after which the Pacific Cup moniker was adopted (with the exception of 1994, when Mexico served as the host country and the tournament was known as La Copa Mexico). In 1996, the tournament was held in Canada for the first and only time. Beginning the following year, Slovakia and the Czech Republic began alternating as hosts, while the tournament became known as the Nations Cup. Between 1997 and 2002, the tournament grew from three participating nations to eight. Starting in 2003, Slovakia and the Czech Republic began co-hosting annually. The competition's current namesake, Ivan Hlinka, was one of the first superstars in Czechoslovak hockey - both domestically and internationally. The U-18 Junior World Cup took on its current name in 2007, after Hlinka's death three years prior.
Historically, the tournament has been dominated by Canada; over 23 years, the country has won 18 times and medalled in each year except 2003 and 2007. As the IIHF's tournament conflicts with the Canadian Hockey League (CHL)'s playoff season, the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament is the only competition of the two to which Canada is able to send its best under-18 team.
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