IIHF World U20 Championship

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For the similar tournament for players under age 18, see IIHF World U18 Championship.
For the similar tournament for female players, see IIHF World Women's U18 Championships .
IIHF World U20 Championship
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2015 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships
Sport Ice hockey
Inaugural season 1974 (unofficial)
1977 (official)
No. of teams 10
Most recent champion(s)  Canada
Most titles  Canada (16 titles)
Official website IIHF.com

The IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championships (WJC), commonly known simply as the World Juniors, is an annual event organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) for national under-20 ice hockey teams from around the world. It is traditionally held in late December, ending in the beginning of January.

The main tournament features the top ten ranked hockey nations in the world, comprising the 'Top Division', from which a world champion is crowned. There are also three lower pools—Divisions I, II and III—that each play separate tournaments playing for the right to be promoted to a higher pool, or face relegation to a lower pool.

The competition's profile is particularly high in Canada; its stature has been credited to Canada's strong performance in the tournament (it has won the gold medal sixteen times since its inception), the role of hockey in Canadian culture, along with strong media coverage and fan attendance. As such, in recent years, nearly half of the tournaments have been held in Canadian cities, with the remainder being held in Europe and the United States.

Canada is the defending champion of the tournament, after having beaten Russia to win the 2015 edition.


The tournament was first held in 1977 (1974–1976 were not official tournaments).[1] The tournament has been dominated by the teams from Russia/Soviet Union and Canada, together accounting for 29 of the 39 overall gold medals awarded. The USSR won the first four official tournaments, while the Canadians put together five straight championships between 1993 and 1997, and another five straight from 2005 to 2009. Canada leads the all-time gold medal count with 16, while USSR/Russia leads the all-time overall medal count with 32. Head-to-head matches between these two countries are always much anticipated.

In addition to the domination of gold medals by these two countries, Canada, Russia (and its predecessors) are joined by the Czech Republic (and its predecessor Czechoslovakia), Finland, Sweden, and the United States in dominating the medals overall. Among them, these six nations have taken every medal in the history of the tournament with the exception of two bronze medals for Slovakia and one bronze medal for Switzerland.

When it began, the World Junior Championship was a relatively obscure tournament. It has since grown in prestige, particularly in Canada, where the tournament ranks as one of the most important events on the sports calendar and during the holiday season. Globe and Mail writer Bruce Dowbiggin credits TSN, along with Canada's strong performance at the tournament, for turning it from an obscure non-event when it acquired the rights in 1991 (which, however, also began growing in prominence due to the Punch-up in Piestany) to one of Canada's most beloved annual sports events, and at the same time cementing the link between Canadian nationalism and hockey, and inspiring the NHL's Winter Classic[2][3] Sportsnet writer Stephen Brunt calls the attention paid to the tournament in Canada "overkill", but says it is understandable given the nationalistic feelings its stirs and its excellent timing and marketing.[4] Based on increasing attendances for countries repeatedly hosting the event[citation needed], the popularity of the tournament seems to be growing in other nations as well.

At editions of the tournament held in the country, Team Canada matches have consistently sold out, offering large profit guarantees to Hockey Canada and the IIHF.[5] Canada is expected to host the tournament every second year starting in 2015 due to the significantly greater following the tournament has in Canada compared to other participating countries. Originally, Switzerland was selected to host the WJHC in 2010, but withdrew.[6] Buffalo, New York, USA hosted the tournament in 2011.[7]

The tournament offers one of the most prestigious stages for young hockey players, able to significantly boost a player's value for upcoming NHL Entry Drafts.[3]

Punch-up in Piestany[edit]

Main article: Punch-up in Piestany

One of the most infamous incidents in WJC history occurred in 1987 in Piestany, Czechoslovakia (today's Slovakia), where a bench-clearing brawl occurred between Canada and the Soviet Union. It began when the Soviet Union's Pavel Kostichkin took a two-handed slash at Canadian player Theoren Fleury. The Soviet Union's Evgeny Davydov then came off the bench, eventually leading to both benches emptying. The officials, unable to break up the fight, left the ice and eventually tried shutting off the arena lights, but the brawl lasted for 20 minutes before the IIHF declared the game null and void. A 35-minute emergency meeting was held, resulting in the delegates voting 7–1 (the sole dissenter was Canadian Dennis McDonald) to eject both teams from the tournament. The Canadian team chose to leave rather than stay for the end-of-tournament dinner, from which the Soviet team was banned.

While the Soviets were out of medal contention, Canada was playing for the gold medal, and were leading 4–2 at the time of the brawl. The gold medal ultimately went to Finland, hosts Czechoslovakia took the silver and Sweden, who had previously been eliminated from medal contention, was awarded the bronze.[8]


Last five tournament results
  • (#) Number of tournaments won at the time.
Year 1st Gold 2nd Silver 3rd Bronze Host city (cities) Host country
2011  Russia (4/13)  Canada  United States Buffalo and Lewiston[9]  United States
2012  Sweden (2)  Russia  Canada Calgary and Edmonton  Canada
2013  United States (3)  Sweden  Russia Ufa  Russia
2014  Finland (3)  Sweden  Russia Malmö  Sweden
2015  Canada (16)  Russia  Slovakia Toronto and Montreal  Canada

Participating countries[edit]

Sweden, Finland and Canada have participated in all 34 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships as well as the three unofficial World Junior Hockey Championships. USSR/CIS/Russia, Czechoslovakia/Czech-Republic, Finland, and the United States have mainly participated at the top level.

When Czechoslovakia peacefully split in 1993, the Czech Republic remained in Pool A but Slovakia (Slovak Republic) was placed in Pool C (now Division II).

Starting with the 1996 tournament, competition was increased from an 8 round robin to the current 10 team format. Since then, Slovakia and Switzerland have become main participants. Both nations have won bronze since that time.

Germany has been a frequent participant in the top pool, having played there roughly half the time in the past decade. Latvia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan have each made a number of top division appearances since the early 1990s. Less frequent top pool appearances have been made by Austria, Denmark, Norway, Poland, Ukraine, France, and Japan.

Player eligibility[edit]

A player is eligible to play in the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships if:[10]

  • the player is of the male sex;
  • the player has his 20th birthday in the year of the tournament's ending (i.e. 1994 for 2014 tournament), and at latest, the fifth year after the tournament's ending (i.e. 1999 for 2014 tournament);
  • the player is a citizen in the country he represents;
  • the player is under the jurisdiction of a national association that is a member of the IIHF.

If a player who has never played in IIHF-organized competition wishes to switch national eligibility, he must have played in competitions for two consecutive years in the new country without playing in another country, as well as show his move to the new country's national association with an international transfer card. In case the player has previously played in IIHF-organized competition but wishes to switch national eligibility, he must have played in competitions for four consecutive years in the new country without playing in another country, he must show his move to the new country's national association with an international transfer card, as well as be a citizen of the new country. A player may only switch national eligibility once.[11]

Tournament awards[edit]

At the conclusion of each tournament, the Directorate of the IIHF presents awards to the Top Goalie, Forward and Defenceman of the tournament. The media attending the event select an All-Star team separately from this.

Broadcast coverage[edit]

The following television networks and websites broadcast World Junior Championship games on television or online.

Country Broadcaster(s)
Canada TSN
Czech Republic ČT
Europe Eurosport
Finland Yle, MTV3 (2009-2015)
Russia NTV Plus
Slovakia RTVS
Sweden SVT
United States NHL Network

TSN (Canada) is the IIHF's main broadcast partner for this tournament. TSN.ca carries all Canada, select preliminary round, and all medal round games live, as well as most games on demand after their completion.[12]

Starting with the 2013 tournament, TSN.ca online coverage - both Live and On-Demand - is behind a paywall and only available from Canadian I.P. addresses.[13]

Future tournaments[edit]

These tournaments have been announced. The tournament is held in Canada every second year.

Year Host city (cities) Host country
2016 Helsinki  Finland
2017 Montreal/Toronto[14]  Canada[15]
2018  United States[16]
2019  Canada[15]
2020  Czech Republic [17]
2021  Canada[15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "All Medallists - U20". History. International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  2. ^ "TSN turned World Junior molehill into mountain". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Dowbiggin, Bruce. "Credit TSN for elevating world juniors to must-see TV". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  4. ^ http://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/juniors/2011/12/29/brunt_world_junior_hockey_canadians/
  5. ^ "Ottawa to host 2009 world junior tourney". tsn.ca. The Canadian Press. 2006-05-03. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  6. ^ "Toronto, Regina-Saskatoon formally bid to stage World Juniors". tsn.ca. 10 June 2008. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  7. ^ "Buffalo to host 2011 world hockey juniors". CBC Sports. Associated Press. 2008-10-27. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  8. ^ "Punch-up in Piestany". CBC Digital Archives. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 1987-01-04. Retrieved 2009-01-07. 
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^ "IIHF statutes and bylaws" (PDF). IIHF. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  11. ^ "IIHF Eligibility". IIHF. Retrieved 2014-01-01. 
  12. ^ "IIHF World Under 20 Championship 2011 Television Coverage". iihf.com. 5 January 2011. Retrieved 2010-01-05. 
  13. ^ http://www.tsn.ca/world_jrs/story/?id=411089
  14. ^ "Toronto, Montreal to co-host 2015, 2017 world juniors: Report". Toronto Sun. 2013-06-19. Retrieved 2013-06-19. 
  15. ^ a b c "Canada to host more tourneys". International Ice Hockey Federation. 2010-05-09. Retrieved 2011-01-05. 
  16. ^ "USA Hockey Awarded Rights to Host Four Additional World Championships". NAHL. Retrieved 6 January 2011. 
  17. ^ http://www.iihf.com/fileadmin/user_upload/PDF/2013-2014_IIHF_Calendar_of_Events_13.03.2014.pdf
General references

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media related to IIHF World U20 Championship at Wikimedia Commons