2016 World Juniors a success
2016 World Juniors a success
Fasel, Gonzalez, Kummola address media
“Once again we can see when Finland organizes a competition, it works quite well. We will have over 200,000 spectators watching the games at the arenas. This is a new European record although we are still far away from the record we had in Canada. We will have a great final this evening with Russia and Finland, so I can say I’m a happy president,” IIHF President Rene Fasel said in his opening remarks.
Fasel also congratulated Organizing Committee Chairman Kalervo Kummola for the success and praised the fact that the prices were kept not too high to attract many fans.
Also Frank Gonzalez, who served as Chairman of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship’s Tournament Directorate, was happy with the event and how it has been organized and operated during the last two weeks.
“The organizing committee has done a great job. The event is great for junior hockey and it’s great for the fans both here in Europe and in North America,” Gonzalez said.
For Kummola, the day Finland plays Russia for gold on home ice will be one of his last days heading up the Finnish Ice Hockey Association. He earlier announced that he would step back. Harri Nummela was elected to serve as his successor after these World Juniors.
“I’m proud to be chairman of this great organizing committee. We have a new European record and nobody complained about ticket prices this time,” he added with a smile.
“We have Finland and Russia in the gold medal game, not many people would have thought it before. But hockey is hockey. This is my last championship as President of the Finnish Ice Hockey Association but I hope we will see each other in international events many times.”
Fasel hopes that the last World Juniors in Europe in Ufa, Russia (2013), Malmo, Russia (2014) and now in Helsinki and the growing attendance figures were a starting point for making the event bigger in Europe, not only at the arenas but also on TV. Fasel praised the work TSN has done over the years to make the World Juniors a festival for millions of hockey fans in Canada.
“Junior sports, along with women’s sports, are not as big in Europe as in North America. We need to make a step forward to make the World Junior Championship as popular in Europe as it is in Canada and Helsinki was a great event,” Fasel said.
“We together with the national associations work hard on establishing and improving the World Junior Championship product for the fans and also for the players, who deserve to play on such a big stage.”
Canadian journalists asked Fasel what the early exit of Team Canada meant for the tournament.
“Canada is so successful with the various national teams, they almost win all the time, so the expectations are very high,” Fasel said. “It gives a good signal to other teams. Nobody expected Finland to be in the final and they are. It’s also a good signal to Canada that they have to work hard to earn a gold medal.”
On a question about how the level of officiating is judged, Gonzalez answered: “The officiating has been more or less the same during the entire tournament. There may have been some bad calls and also some very good calls. There are young officials, everybody on the ice is here to learn and we want to do our best effort to develop the officials as well. They have done a good job in general and I don’t think any team has been eliminated from the tournament because of the officiating.”
The 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship will be held in Montreal and Toronto from 26 December 2016 to 5 January 2017. Ticket packages are already being sold. Compared to the 2015 event, the venues will have reversed roles, with Toronto getting the preliminary round group with Team Canada while Montreal gets the semi-finals and medal games.
Asked about the expectations and attendance in Montreal, Fasel replied: “It’s the biggest NHL arena and we really hope that many fans will come to Montreal. Montreal is a great city and the people love the game. We have to look at some things, but I’m sure the fans will come.”
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