IIHF World U20 Championship
2014 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships
Sport Ice hockey
Founded 1974 (unofficial)
1977 (official)
No. of teams {{{teams}}}
Most recent champion(s) Flag of the United States.svg.png United States
Official website

The IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey 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 2013 World Junior Championship took place in Ufa, Russia with the United States beating Sweden in the gold medal match. The 2014 tournament will take place in Malmö, Sweden


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 28 of the 36 overall gold medals awarded. 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 15, while USSR/Russia leads the all-time overall medal count with 28. 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, Russia (and its predecessors) 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 one bronze medal each for Switzerland and Slovakia.

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. Globe and Mail writer Bruce Dowbiggin credits TSN for turning the tournament from an obscure non-event when it acquired the rights in 1991 (and which it remains in most hockey countries) 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. writer Stephen Brunt calls the attention paid to the tournament in Canada "overkill", but says it is understandable given the nationalistic feelings its stirs and its excellent timing and marketing. Based on increasing attendances for countries repeatedly hosting the event, the popularity of the tournament seems to be growing in other nations as well.

Canada typically hosted the tournament every three to four years, consistently selling out Team Canada games, offering large profit guarantees to Hockey Canada and the IIHF. 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. Buffalo, New York, USA hosted the tournament in 2011.

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.

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, 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.[2]


Main article: List of IIHF World Under-20 Championship medalists

Participating countriesEdit

Sweden, Finland and Canada have participated in all 34 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships as well as the 3 unofficial World Junior Hockey Championships although Canada and Soviet Union nearly were relegated to Pool B (now Division I) as punishment for the Punch-up in Piestany in 1988. USSR/CIS/Russia, Czechoslovakia/Czech-Republic, and the United States have mainly participated at the top level. 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). In 1995, Slovakia became a main participant of the World Junior Hockey Championships and won bronze in 1999. Starting with the 1996 tournament, competition was increased from an 8 round robin to the current 10 team format. Since then, Switzerland has been a main participant. West Germany competed frequently from 1977 and since the reunification in 1990 the united Germany has continued that trend. Before the format change in 1996, Austria, Denmark, Norway, Poland and Switzerland made brief appearances. After regaining their independence in the early 1990s, Latvia has made several appearances, along with Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. These teams had to start from the bottom division in the early 1990s. France and Japan have so far made one appearance each at the World Junior Hockey Championships.

Player eligibility Edit

A player is eligible to play in the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships if:[3]

  • the player is of male gender;
  • the player has his 20th birthday in the year of the tournament's ending (i.e. 1994 for 2014 tournament), and at latest, the fifth year after the tournament's ending (i.e. 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.[4]

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.

Main article: List of IIHF World Under 20 Championship Directorate award winners
Main article: List of IIHF World Under 20 Championship Media All-Star Teams

See alsoEdit


General references

External linksEdit

World Junior Championships
IIHF World U20 Championship (1974-)

Soviet Union 1974 - Canada 1975 - Finland 1976 - Czechoslovakia 1977 - Canada 1978 - Sweden 1979 - Finland 1980 - West Germany 1981 - United States 1982 - Soviet Union 1983 - Sweden 1984 - Finland 1985 - Canada 1986 - Czechoslovakia 1987 - Soviet Union 1988 - United States 1989 - Finland 1990 - Canada 1991 - Germany 1992 - Sweden 1993 - Czech Republic 1994 - Canada 1995 - United States 1996 - Switzerland 1997 - Finland 1998 - Canada 1999 - Sweden 2000 - Russia 2001 - Czech Republic 2002 - Canada 2003 - Finland 2004 - United States 2005 - Canada 2006 - Sweden 2007 - Czech Republic 2008 - Canada 2009 - Canada 2010 - United States 2011 - Canada 2012 - Russia 2013 - Sweden 2014 - Canada 2015 - Finland 2016

IIHF World U18 Championship (1999-)

Germany 1999 - Switzerland 2000 - Finland 2001 - Slovakia 2002 - Russia 2003 - Belarus 2004 - Czech Republic 2005 - Sweden 2006 - Finland 2007 - Russia 2008 - United States 2009 - Belarus 2010 - Germany 2011 - Czech Republic 2012 - Russia 2013 - Finland 2014 = Switzerland 2015 - United States 2016

International Ice Hockey Federation
World Championships

Ice Hockey World Championships - U20 - U18 - IIHF World Women's Championships - U18

Other competitions

Olympic Games - Champions Hockey League - Continental Cup - Challenge Cup of Asia - European Women's Champions Cup


Victoria Cup - European Champions Cup - Super Cup - European Championships - European Women Championships - European Junior Championships - Asian Oceanic U18 Championships

Related articles

IIHF Centennial All-Star Team - IIHF Hall of Fame - IIHF World Ranking - List of IIHF members

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