Canadian players in action during the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, in a photo posted to hockeycanada.ca.

Canadian players in action during the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, in a photo posted to hockeycanada.ca.

World Under-17 Hockey Challenge pitched for rinks in North Delta, Langley and Chilliwack

Hockey Canada-planned tournament has showcased 1,800 NHL draft picks since 1986

Hockey arenas in North Delta, Langley and Chilliwack could host games featuring some of the world’s best 16-year-old players in the fall of 2021.

A joint bid by the three communities for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge is being considered by Hockey Canada, for November of that year.

The 2019 edition of the international showcase, held in Medicine Hat, Alta., and Swift Current, Sask., saw 66 Canadian players divided into three teams – wearing white, black and red – for a week of games last fall.

Since the inception in 1986 of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, then known as the Quebec Esso Cup, more than 1,800 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including current stars Patrick Kane, Connor McDavid, Auston Matthews and Alex Ovechkin.

• RELATED STORY, from 2018: Surrey’s Justin Sourdif among 66 Canadians named to World U-17 Hockey Challenge rosters.

• READ ALSO, from 2016: Silver medals for Surrey skaters Burzan and Popowich at U17 tourney.

Rob Reid, president of North Delta Minor Hockey Association, said the tournament “would create a real buzz in North Delta,” especially among hockey fans and players.

“If we did secure the bid, we would be super excited to host because it brings more exposure and helps us build the game in the local community,” Reid said Tuesday.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Sungod Arena packed to capacity for games like these, and it would be cool to see,” Reid added. “This would be a popular ticket, that’s for sure. There would be a lot of work to do, and some volunteer positions available.”

The 2019 tourney involved eight teams – three from Canada and once each representing the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia, Sweden and the U.S. – in 22 games played over eight days. Some games were shown on TSN, others streamed on Hockey Canada’s website.

On Monday (Feb. 3), Hockey Canada communications co-ordinator Spencer Sharkey said the organization’s events team is still working through the bid process for the 2021 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. “We should be making an official announcement later this month,” Sharkey told the Now-Leader.



tom.zillich@surreynowleader.com

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