World Junior Championship
2017 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships
Sport hockey
Founded 1974
Inaugural season [[1974 (unofficial)
1977 (official)]]
No. of teams 10
Most recent champion(s) Flag of the United States United States of America
Most championship(s) Flag of Canada.svg Canada (16 titles)
Official website

The IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championships (WJC), commonly known simply as the World Juniors, 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 competition's profile is particularly high in Canada; its stature has been credited to Canada's strong performance in the tournament (it has won the gold medal sixteen times since its inception), the role of hockey in Canadian culture, along with strong media coverage and fan attendance. As such, in recent years, nearly half of the tournaments have been held in Canadian cities, with the remainder being held in Europe and the United States.

The United States are the defending champion of the tournament, after having beaten Canada to win the 2017 edition.


The tournament was first held in 1977 (1974–1976 were not official tournaments).[1] The tournament has been dominated by the teams from Russia/Soviet Union and Canada, together accounting for 29 of the 41 overall gold medals awarded (through 2017). 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 16, while USSR/Russia leads the all-time overall medal count with 32. Head-to-head matches between these two countries are always much anticipated.

In addition to the domination of gold medals by these two countries, Canada and Russia (and its predecessor) are joined by the Czech Republic (and its predecessor Czechoslovakia), Finland, Sweden, and the United States in dominating the medals overall. Among them, these six nations have taken every medal in the history of the tournament with the exception of two bronze medals for Slovakia and one bronze medal for Switzerland.

When it began, the World Junior Championship was a relatively obscure tournament. It has since grown in prestige, particularly in Canada, where the tournament ranks as one of the most important events on the sports calendar and during the holiday season. Globe and Mail writer Bruce Dowbiggin credits TSN, along with Canada's strong performance at the tournament, for turning it from an obscure non-event when it acquired the rights in 1991 (which, however, also began growing in prominence due to the Punch-up in Piestany) to one of Canada's most beloved annual sports events, and at the same time cementing the link between Canadian nationalism and hockey, and inspiring the NHL's Winter Classic[2][3] Based on increasing attendances for countries repeatedly hosting the event, the popularity of the tournament seems to be growing in other nations as well.

At editions of the tournament held in the country, Team Canada matches have consistently sold out, offering large profit guarantees to Hockey Canada and the IIHF.[4] Canada is expected to host the tournament every second year starting in 2015 due to the significantly greater following the tournament has in Canada compared to other participating countries. Originally, Switzerland was selected to host the WJHC in 2010, but withdrew.[5] Buffalo, New York, USA hosted the tournament in 2011 and will host it again in 2018; in both cases, proximity to Canada's population core in Southern Ontario was a key factor in the city winning the bidding rights.[6]

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.[3]

Punch-up in PiestanyEdit

Main article: Punch-up in Piestany
One of the most infamous incidents in WJC history occurred in 1987 in Piestany, Czechoslovakia (today's Slovakia), 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 was 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.[7]


Recent results and upcoming tournaments
  • (#) Number of tournaments won at the time.
Year Gold medal icon Gold Silver medal icon Silver Bronze medal icon Bronze Host city (cities) Host country
2010 Flag of the United States United States of America (2) Flag of Canada Canada (7) Flag of Sweden Sweden (5) Saskatoon and Regina Flag of Canada.svg Canada
2011 Flag of Russia Russia (4/13) Flag of Canada Canada (8) Flag of the United States United States of America (4) Buffalo and Lewiston[8] Flag of the United States United States
2012 Flag of Sweden Sweden (2) Flag of Russia Russia (7/10) Flag of Canada Canada (5) Calgary and Edmonton Flag of Canada.svg Canada
2013 Flag of the United States United States of America (3) Flag of Sweden Sweden (9) Flag of Russia Russia (6/8) Ufa Flag of Russia Russia
2014 Flag of Finland Finland (3) Flag of Sweden Sweden (10) Flag of Russia Russia (7/9) Malmö Flag of Sweden Sweden
2015 Flag of Canada Canada (16) Flag of Russia Russia (8/11) Flag of Slovakia Slovakia (2) Toronto and Montreal Flag of Canada.svg Canada
2016 Flag of Finland Finland (4) Flag of Russia Russia (9/12) Flag of the United States United States of America (5) Helsinki Flag of Finland Finland
2017 Flag of the United States United States of America (4) Flag of Canada Canada (9) Flag of Russia Russia (8) Montreal and Toronto[9] Flag of Canada.svg Canada
2018 Flag of Canada Canada (17) Flag of Sweden Sweden (11) Flag of the United States United States of America (6) Buffalo and Orchard Park[10] Flag of the United States United States
2019 Flag of Finland Finland (5) Flag of the United States United States of America (2) Flag of Russia Russia (9) Vancouver and Victoria Flag of Canada.svg Canada
2020 Flag of Canada Canada (18) Flag of Russia Russia (10) Flag of Sweden Sweden (6) Ostrava and Třinec Flag of the Czech Republic Czech Republic
2021 Edmonton and Red Deer Flag of Canada.svg Canada
2022 Gothenburg Flag of Sweden Sweden
2023 Novosibirsk Flag of Russia Russia

Participating countriesEdit

Sweden, Finland and Canada have participated in all 40 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships as well as the three unofficial World Junior Hockey Championships. USSR/CIS/Russia and Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic have also participated in all IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, and the United States have participated in all except one (1976). When Czechoslovakia peacefully split in 1993, the Czech Republic remained in Pool A but Slovakia (Slovak Republic) was placed in Pool C (now Division II). Slovakia was promoted to the top division for the 1996 Championships and have remained there since.

Starting with the 1996 tournament, competition was increased from an 8-round robin to the current 10 team format. Since then Switzerland has become a main participant.

Germany has been a frequent participant in the top pool, having played there roughly half the time in the past decade. Latvia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan have also each made a number of top division appearances since the early 1990s. Less frequent top pool appearances have been made by Austria, Denmark, France, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland and Ukraine.

For the 2018 championships to be held in Buffalo, the participating teams will be Belarus, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, Russia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Sweden, and the United States.

Player eligibility Edit

A player is eligible to play in the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships if:[11]

  • the player is of the male sex;
  • the player has his 20th birthday in the year of the tournament's ending (i.e. born in 1994 for 2014 tournament), and at latest, the fifth year after the tournament's ending (i.e. born in 1999 for 2014 tournament);
  • the player is a citizen in the country he represents;
  • the player is under the jurisdiction of a national association that is a member of the IIHF.

If a player who has never played in IIHF-organized competition wishes to switch national eligibility, he must have played in competitions for two consecutive years in the new country without playing in another country, as well as show his move to the new country's national association with an international transfer card. In case the player has previously played in IIHF-organized competition but wishes to switch national eligibility, he must have played in competitions for four consecutive years in the new country without playing in another country, he must show his move to the new country's national association with an international transfer card, as well as be a citizen of the new country. A player may only switch national eligibility once.[12]

Tournament awardsEdit

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.

Broadcast coverage Edit

The following television networks and websites broadcast World Junior Championship games on television or online.

Country Broadcaster(s)
Canada TSN
Czech Republic ČT
Europe Eurosport
Finland Yle, MTV3 (2009-2015)
Russia Match TV
Slovakia RTVS
Sweden SVT
United States NHL Network

TSN (Canada) is the IIHF's main broadcast partner for this tournament. carries all Canada, select preliminary round, and all medal round games live, as well as most games on demand after their completion.[13]

Starting with the 2013 tournament, online coverage - both Live and On-Demand - is behind a paywall and only available from Canadian I.P. addresses.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. All Medallists - U20. History. International Ice Hockey Federation. Retrieved on 2009-01-07.
  2. "TSN turned World Junior molehill into mountain", The Globe and Mail. Retrieved on 21 December 2014. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Credit TSN for elevating world juniors to must-see TV", The Globe and Mail. Retrieved on 6 January 2015. 
  4. "Ottawa to host 2009 world junior tourney",, 2006-05-03. Retrieved on 2009-01-07. Archived from the original on 2007-12-28. 
  5. Toronto, Regina-Saskatoon formally bid to stage World Juniors. (10 June 2008). Retrieved on 2010-01-05.
  6. "Buffalo to host 2011 world hockey juniors", CBC Sports, 2008-10-27. Retrieved on 2009-01-07. 
  7. Punch-up in Piestany. CBC Digital Archives. Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (1987-01-04). Retrieved on 2009-01-07.
  8. [1]
  9. Toronto and Montreal to host 2015 and 2017 world juniors (19 June 2013).
  10. Seravalli, Frank (3 December 2015). Sources: Outdoor game planned for 2018 World Juniors in Buffalo.
  11. IIHF statutes and bylaws. IIHF. Retrieved on 2014-01-01.
  12. IIHF Eligibility. IIHF. Retrieved on 2014-01-01.
  13. IIHF World Under 20 Championship 2011 Television Coverage. (5 January 2011). Retrieved on 2010-01-05.
General references

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit

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