International Ice Hockey Federation

Finland opens vs. Belarus

Finland opens vs. Belarus

North American clash on Boxing Day

Published 09.03.2015 10:01 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Finland opens vs. Belarus
See you in Helsinki? Canada’s Lawson Crouse and Team USA’s Zach Werenski will be eligible to play in the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship that will start with the North American rivalry on Boxing Day. Photo: Richard Wolowicz / HHOF-IIHF Images
Finland will open the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship at Hartwall Arena as the hosts take on Belarus. USA-Canada will play the other evening game.

When the World Juniors move to the land of reindeer and Santa Claus, hockey fans can expect plenty of exciting games between the top-10 junior nations starting on 26th December.

With less than 300 days to go until Boxing Day, the schedule of the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship has been released.

The event will be staged in the Finnish capital of Helsinki in the city’s two biggest ice rinks. Host Finland will play at Hartwall Arena. The 13,665-seat venue co-hosted games of the IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in 2012 and 2013 and is the home arena of Jokerit Helsinki. It also hosted the World Championship in 1997 and 2003 and the World Junior Championship in 1998.

The quest for gold for the 2014 world junior champions will start on 26th December at 18:00 against Belarus, a country that earned promotion less than three months ago, while the earlier game of Group B will be played between the Czech Republic and Russia at 14:00. Slovakia also plays in the group at Hartwall Arena and will start the competition on 27th December at 16:00 against Belarus.

Playing the newly-promoted Belarusians doesn’t necessarily mean it will be an easy task. Finland played Belarus only twice in World Junior history. A 5-0 win at the 2001 World Juniors was followed by a 4-3 opening-day loss six years later in the teams’ opening game in Sweden.

The North American teams will face each other for a Boxing Day rivalry this time. Team USA and defending champion Canada play at 20:00 at Helsinki Ice Hall, a convenient time also for North American fans who won’t be able to make it to Helsinki, since the game starts on TV at 1 PM (EST) in North America.

Switzerland vs. Sweden (16:00) will be the early game in Group A that also includes Denmark. The Danes, the surprise team in Toronto last winter, will play their first game on 27th December (20:00) against Switzerland.

The venue for the group, Helsinki Ice Hall, is the home of IFK Helsinki with a capacity of 8,200 fans. This traditional ice rink has hosted the World Juniors four times before, in 1980, 1985, 1990 and 2004, as well as the World Championship in 1974, 1982 and 1991.

It will host Group A, two quarter-final games and the best-of-three relegation round while Hartwall Arena will host all games of Group B, two quarter-finals, both semi-finals and the medal games.

“Only two kilometres separate the two arenas. Thanks to the convenient distance and the fact that games at the two venues start at different times fans can theoretically attend all 31 games of the tournament,” General Secretary Timo Backman says.

The Preliminary Round will be played 26-31 December with the best four teams of each group advancing to the quarter-finals that will be played on 2nd January. If qualified, Finland will play its quarter-final game at Hartwall Arena at 18:00. The tournament ends with the medal games on 5th January. Click here for the full schedule.

Finland was the long-time record holder for the most-attended World Junior Championship held in Europe, with 139,680 spectators in Helsinki and Hameenlinna in 1998. Malmo, Sweden, broke that record last year with 144,268 spectators but the Finns now get the chance to set another record next winter in Helsinki.

Ticket sales for the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship are expected to start at the end of April 2015. More details will be announced beforehand on the official website

One year after Helsinki the 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship will return to Canada with Montreal and Toronto as venues.


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