Students at Sunbury West School in Fredericton Junction gathered in the gym on April 5 for a major international hockey news announcement. They arrived wearing their favourite hockey jerseys and waited for the excitement to begin as the music of the great Canadian singer Stompin' Tom Connors belted out: "the good old hockey game is the best game you can name!" A few moments later, they were told the ice at the nearby Tri-County Complex would soon be hosting a world class, once-in-a-lifetime event in their community.
Team Canada White will meet Russia in an exhibition game prior to the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. The Tri-County Complex will be the site of the pre-tournament clash on Thursday, Nov. 1, 2018 at 7 p.m.
"This is going to be a fantastic game," said Lisa McLaughlin, chair of the Tri-County Minor Hockey Association. "Canada-Russia has been an historic hockey rivalry since the Summit Series in 1972. We can't wait to see these two nations on our ice."
The other exhibition games will be played at the same time and date in Blacks Harbour, St. Stephen and Sussex. The prestigious eight-team international event, which will be contested at Saint John's Harbour Station and the qplex in Quispamsis, begins in earnest two days later.
"We are so excited to be able to bring this high-calibre hockey to these areas," said Aaron Kennedy, chair of the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge host organizing committee. "Hockey is part of the Canadian mosaic and we know this will be well supported by the various communities."
The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge was last held in New Brunswick 23 years ago. The students were told some of the best young players in the world will be on the ice in their community in November, many of whom will one day be playing with the National Hockey League. Tickets to the local game will be a dream come true for youth who want to see their hockey heroes in action and cheer on Team Canada.
"Hockey New Brunswick is honoured to host these games with the support and assistance of our local associations," said Nic Jansen, executive director. "This is a great opportunity for people to see some of the world's best 16-year-old hockey players in their own backyard."
For more information, including the complete tournament schedule, visit www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/national-championships/men/world-u17/2018
Tickets cost $10 each and must be purchased in advance by contacting the Tri-County Minor Hockey Association. The tickets went on sale April 5. In the photo below, students and staff join local officials and members of the Tri-County Minor Hockey Association in celebrating news of the game coming to the community. Aaron Kennedy, chair of the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge organizing committee, is shown in the photo on the far right. All the students went home with mini-sticks as prizes from the announcement.