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World Juniors Championship Village Offers Unique Activities for Fans

By Tom Robinson, 12/27/17, 5:30PM EST


Fans coming to Buffalo can enjoy interactive games and experiences all tournament long

The 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship is underway, and it promises to be a special one as the tournament returns to the United States for the first time since 2011, and even features an outdoor game for the first time ever.

But fans traveling to Buffalo, New York will have more than games to take in while they are there.

Buffalo’s Canalside waterfront area has the feel of an Olympic Village, according to Don Heins, director of communications for Pegula Sports and Entertainment, which organized the event alongside the Sabres.

Championship Village, a sprawling fan-experience area, is located next to game sites KeyBank Center and HarborCenter, which are connected by a walking bridge.

“It’s right outside of where all the games are played,” Heins said. “There’s a good amount of green space there as well as a municipally operated large skating rink.”

Heins said the green spaces along the Canalside are used for festivals, concerts and similar events in the summer. That space has been converted into a “winter fan-type village.”

The whole package is part of the plans that were made for the return of the tournament, which was also in Buffalo in 2011. The 42nd annual event opened Dec. 26 and concludes Jan. 5.

All but one game — the U.S. vs. Canada outdoor game Dec. 29 at New Era Field, the home of the National Football League’s Buffalo Bills in nearby Orchard Park — will be played at either KeyBank Center or HarborCenter.

On their way to or from games, or between games, Championship Village entertains fans with exhibits, food and drink, merchandise options and interactive events.

Hockey fans tend to be accustomed to the cold, but the village includes both outdoor experiences and places to stay warm with a large climate-controlled tent and the Zippo Warming Area, featuring hot beverages and interactive games.

“So, it is cold,” Heins said, “but the main part, championship headquarters, is a very large tent that we have that is completely climate-controlled. When I call it a tent, it’s because there is a tent top to it, but there are Plexiglas walls.”

The outdoor attractions include a hockey skills competition center, snow globe photo station, and the Snowzilla slide.

“The Snowzilla slide is the most exciting thing that’s going on down there, in my opinion,” Heins said. “It’s a 70-foot long, 40-foot high inflatable slide that people of all ages are riding tubes down.

“They’re getting some real good speeds, too.”

The skills competition is ongoing throughout the tournament and features an updated scoreboard so that fans will be competing right alongside the teams.

The activities inside the tent include live music from the band Strictly Hip, a popular regional Tragically Hip tribute band that has followers in the United States and Canada. Labatt Blue, the official beer of the village, is presenting Championship Headquarters and has an area inside the tent where its products will be available.

There are also autograph sessions scheduled.

“While a little bit of stamina is needed to brave some of the cold for some of the attractions, there are plenty of places to warm up and plenty of things to do that it doesn’t keep you out in the cold the whole time,” Heins said.

Heins said the goal was to have something to appeal to a variety of age groups.

“It’s meant to be a family-friendly atmosphere,” Heins said. “That’s what all the attractions are designed around.

“ … There is something for everyone, but the keys are hockey fans and families.”

There is a jersey display, sponsored by New Era, and some of Buffalo’s most popular food trucks are on location. Fans also can find restaurant options at HarborCenter.

The tent is open most nights until midnight, allowing fans to extend the night even after the last game of the day is completed. It’s just another way for fans to enjoy all that the tournament has to offer, on and off the ice.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc

2018 World Juniors

U.S. Roster

Official Event Site

U.S. Schedule

Date Opponent Location Result U.S. Player of Game
Wed., Dec. 20 Belarus
Pre-Tournament Game
Northwest Arena
Jamestown, N.Y.
W, 14-0 NA
Fri., Dec. 22 Sweden
Pre-Tournament Game
Erie Insurance Arena
Erie, Pa.
W, 3-1 NA
Tues., Dec. 26 Denmark
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 9-0 Casey Mittelstadt
Thurs., Dec. 28 Slovakia
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
L, 2-3 Brady Tkachuk
Fri., Dec. 29 Canada
Preliminary Round
New Era Field*
Orchard Park, N.Y.
W (SO) 4-3 Casey Mittelstadt
Sun., Dec. 31 Finland
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 5-4 Joey Anderson
Tues., Jan. 2 Russia
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 4-2 Kieffer Bellows
Thurs., Jan. 4 Sweden
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
L, 2-4 Josh Norris
Fri., Jan. 5 Czech Republic
Bronze-Medal Game
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 9-3 Trent Frederic

World Juniors News