Finishing minutes before Alex Nylander was officially loaned to Team Sweden by the Sabres, Chris and Tyler discuss the outlook for this year’s World Junior tournament. We offer up some thoughts on the medal favorites while also providing a few games worth circling for the upcoming tourney.
With the World Junior Championship just days away, the Sabres and Pegula Sports and Entertainment have released additional details on the attractions they’ll be offering to fans outside the 31-games at HarborCenter and KeyBank Center.
Chief among them is the Championship Village which will occupy space in Canalside directly adjacent to HarborCenter. Dotting the cobblestone streets will be a large, enclosed tent sponsored by Labatt Blue, a warming area sponsored by Zippo, food trucks, a sledding hill, frozen jerseys, a hockey skills area and some sort of snowglobe attraction. It’s a nice offering even though it appears a little thin when viewed on the map tweeted by the main PSE account handling the event.
The sledding hill will fill most, if not all of the block bounded by Lloyd, Prime and Hanover Streets, so the final product will be more robust than the graphic may illustrate. Although I’ve been left wondering if there is a missed opportunity to incorporate more of the international flair offered by an event like the WJC. Continue reading
Things are going to be quite a bit different in Buffalo when you compare things to the last time the World Junior Championships came to town.
Downtown is far more vibrant, Canalside is slightly more developed and HarborCenter will serve as the second home for the tournament. No more jaunts to Dwyer Arena to catch the secondary matchups, which not only means that the corner of Perry and Washington will be home to more action throughout the tournament, some of the intriguing non-marquee matchups will be easier to access.
The WJC will always have a handful of can’t miss preliminary matchups and this year will be no different. The outdoor game between the US and Canada, which is reported to have a surprisingly low attendance number (paywall) at the moment, is the obvious headliner, but Russia-Sweden, USA-Finland and Canada-Finland will be well worth the cost of attendance as well. What fans in Buffalo should be aware of are the slate of games lacking headliners which will be both affordable and appealing from a Sabres-fan perspective. Continue reading
USA Hockey unveiled the jerseys the US will be wearing at New Era Field for the World Junior Championships outdoor game. The reception wasn’t quite as warm as they may have expected.
The jerseys, just a long sleeved Bills jersey, are not easy on the eye. The sleeves and high numbers on the shoulders look terrific. As does the back of the jersey and the collar. It’s the front where everything falls apart. Numbers on the front of a hockey jersey don’t always look out of place, but it’s easy for things to get out of hand.
Donning a special jersey for the game is a great decision, one that would have seemed silly to avoid from both USA Hockey and Hockey Canada’s perspective. So the impetus for the Bills mashup jersey is obvious. What isn’t obvious is why the powers that be decided to go in such a drastic direction. Continue reading
Waiting two full years for the World Juniors to arrive at our door once again will certainly test the patience of Western New York’s hockey fans.
The build up to the tournament will certainly bring plenty of cries about #OneBuffalo, #Buffalove and the like. What I hope to see more of is chatter and planning over activities surrounding the tournament.
Downtown Buffalo is a much different place today than it was in 2011 and I hope to see it change even more before the start of the 2018 tournament. But outside of big development projects, I’m hoping the city adopts an Olympic-type vibe for the 2018 tourney. I’m thinking of various activities and attractions around town. Pulling inspiration from All Star weekend or the non-event attractions many Olympic cities utilize. Continue reading
The countdown to the 2018 World Junior Championships in on. We’re just about two years away, on the nose, from the start of the tournament which will culminate in early January 2018.
That’s two full years before the eyes of (most of) the hockey world are directed on Buffalo. Two years to plan and two years to prepare the city.
Based on Buffalo’s previous run as a host in 2011 and subsequent USA Hockey and IIHF events hosted in Buffalo, it’s clear that the Sabres organization has their ducks in a row when it comes to hosting international events. I have little doubt that the efforts made by the Sabres will eclipse the work that made the 2011 tournament a success.
While every ticket at the 2011 event wasn’t sold – in fact there were many Team USA games with open sections of seats – I don’t think it’s a stretch to expect a better turnout for 2018. That’s without taking the planned outdoor game into account. Western New York’s hockey culture continues to grow and if the participants are sold the right way I’d expect to see fans turn out well. One of the many goals that needs to be met by the 2018 WJC
The biggest area of opportunity, in my opinion, is how the players, media and fans who are converging on Buffalo will feel about the city. Two of the more infamous moments of the 2011 tournament were the criticisms leveled by European journalists and Emerson Etem of Team USA. Etem’s comments on the city brought boos from the home crowd whenever he touched the puck in following games. Having home fans boo one of Team USA’s own was terrific.
Obviously the city and region have grown quite a bit in the past five years. The improvements will certainly reflect well upon new and return visitors. However, there’s so much positive energy downtown that the World Junior tournament could serve as the catalyst to wrap up some of the most promising projects in the city. Continue reading
Some interesting and exciting news spiced up a relatively quiet Thursday when word got out that USA Hockey was awarding the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championships to Buffalo. The most notable piece of news, apart from who would be hosting, is that an outdoor game would be part of the 2018 tournament.
While the Sabres and the city did a fabulous job hosting the event in 2011 the 2018 edition will have the added wrinkle of an outdoor game. This is undoubtedly the biggest part of the whole announcement simply because Buffalo was always seen as leaders in the clubhouse to win the bid. When word filtered around social media of the outdoor game the first reaction was centered around who would play in it, and how could Team USA and Team Canada be guaranteed to be the ones facing off at the 50 yard line at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The tournament field has yet to be confirmed, let alone the schedule, but as Frank Seravalli of TSN reported the host city may petition to move a team from one group to another. This would make a USA-Canada match up at The Ralph a near certainty.
For what it’s worth, as long as Canada is playing it I think the outdoor game will be a quick sellout regardless who they line up against. The more than 70,000 people certain to pack the stadium would be the biggest crowd ever to watch a junior hockey game and all but guarantee the 2018 tournament be record breaking when it comes to attendance.
Once people got over the initial excitement of there being another outdoor game to look forward to in a few years speculation began to swirl that the Sabres were a slam dunk to host the Winter Classic in 2018, creating an outdoor doubleheader of sorts. John Wawrow has reported the Sabres have officially petitioned the NHL to host the league’s marquee event but it is not a mere formality that the Sabres will be heading outdoors. Continue reading