The world juniors are coming to Mount Pearl.
Well, maybe not those world juniors — the IIHF World Junior Championship — but the International Street and Ball Hockey Federation’s world junior tournament next month.
The two rinks at the Mount Pearl Glacier will stage the world under-20 and U18 championships July 4-8, and both Canadian teams will have a distinct Newfoundland and Labrador flavour.
Mount Pearl’s James O’Brien and Jesse Sutton, Joel Bishop of St. John’s and Gander’s Jordan Maher, along with assistant coach Mike Dyke, who also hails from Gander, are on the U20 roster, while Jack Keough of Mount Pearl, Dawson Mercer of Bay Roberts, Adam Mouland of Gander and Brent Broaders of Fogo Island will suit up for the U18 squad.
It’s the second time the world juniors have been held in metro St. John’s, following the 2008 tournament. The region also staged the 2013 world men’s and women’s championships.
Canada enters the 2018 tournament as the defending U18 champion having beaten Slovakia in a gold-medal game shootout two years ago in Sheffield, England. The U20 squad had to settle for silver after losing in a shootout in the final against — you guessed it — Slovakia.
The world juniors are held every two years, following the first tournament held back in 2000 in the Czech Republic.
Seven countries will be represented in Mount Pearl — the United States, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Great Britain, Italy and Switzerland, along with the host.
Seven teams will vie for the U18 championship, with the U20 tournament drawing five teams.
In total, there will be some 400 players and coaches involved, not to mention delegations visiting from a pair of countries not exactly associated with hockey, be it ice hockey or ball hockey — Uganda and Cameroon.
“The ISBHF is trying to make the game global,” said Steve Power of St. John’s, who is a busy man on the ball hockey scene as president of both the Newfoundland and Labrador Ball Hockey Association and Canadian Ball Hockey Association. In addition, Power coached the U20 team in Sheffield two years ago.
“Everyone knows the costs associated with ice hockey. Not so with ball hockey. We’re talking Uganda here. Ball hockey is played in outdoor venues all over the world, which makes the game attractive to a lot of countries.
“Switzerland has a pro ball hockey league that’s played outdoors. It’s a vibrant sport.”
Power said local fans can expect to see “first-class athletes” competing next month, and that’s evident given the group of Newfoundland kids on the rosters.
Sutton, Bishop, Mercer and Maher all played in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League last season (Maher won the Memorial Cup with Acadia-Bathurst Titan), Broaders in the Maritime Junior Hockey League, and Keough and Mouland in the Newfoundland and Labrador Major Midget Hockey League.
Two years ago in Sheffield, Nathan Yetman and Brad Power of St. John’s, and Thomas Hedges of Gander performed on Canada’s U20 squad, while Broaders, Mercer, Tristan Gray of Bonavista, Nick Gosse of Paradise and Kyle Petten of Bay Roberts played U16.
Since the 2016 world juniors, the U16 age group has been removed from the world juniors, and now is a separate development event — the U16 World Cup.