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IIHF World U20 Championship
Current season or competition:
2010 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1974 (unofficial)
1977 (official)
Most recent champion(s)  United States
Official website

The International Ice Hockey Federation World Under 20 Championship (colloquially known as the World Junior Hockey Championship, usually abbreviated WJHC) 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 2010 championship took place in Saskatoon and Regina, both in Saskatchewan, Canada.



First held in 1977 (1974–1976 were not official tournaments)[1] as a relatively obscure tournament, the WJHC has grown in prestige, particularly in Canada, where the tournament ranks as one of the most important events on the sports calendar.

Canada typically hosts the tournament every three to four years, consistently selling out Team Canada games, offering large profit guarantees to Hockey Canada.[2] Canada is, however, recently hosting at a more frequent rate, with two of the three most recent tournaments (Ottawa in 2009, Saskatchewan in 2010) and in Alberta in 2012.[3] Originally, Switzerland was selected to host the WJHC in 2010, but withdrew.[4] Buffalo, USA will host the tournament in 2011.[5]

The tournament has been dominated by the teams from Russia/Soviet Union/CIS and Canada, together accounting for 27 of the 33 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 15, while USSR/Russia lead the all-time overall medal count with 28. Head-to-head matches between these two countries are always much anticipated.

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.


Punch-up in Piestany

One of the most infamous incidents in WJHC history occurred in 1987 in Piestany, Czechoslovakia, 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 were 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.[6]


Participating Countries

Canada has participated in 33 consecutive IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, despite nearly being relegated to Pool B (now Division I) with the Soviet Union as punishment for the Punch-up in Piestany. USSR/Russia, Sweden, Finland, Czechoslovakia/Czech-Republic, and the United States have mainly participated at the top level. When Czechoslovakia became Czech-Republic and Slovak Republic (late Slovakia) in 1992. Slovakia had to start at Pool C (now Division II), and in 1995, Slovakia became a main participant of the World Junior Hockey Championships, and won bronze in 1999. Switzerland also became a main participant when 2 teams were added, formating the 10-team tournament which was first played in 1996. West Germany/Germany frequently participated since 1977, and West Germany became Germany in 1990 after the reunification in which East Germany merged with West Germany forming Germany. Before the format change in 1996, Austria, Japan, Norway, Poland and Switzerland made brief appearances. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992, the Soviet Union was known as the CIS. Former Soviet states Belarus, Kazakhstan, Latvia, and Ukraine made several appearances since 1995. France and Denmark have so far made one appearance at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

Tournament Awards

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.

See also



External links

  • - 2008 IIHF World U20 Championship - Pardubice, Liberec, Czech republic
  • Result archive - Full results for men's, women's and junior championships since 1999 and medalists for all tournaments.


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