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The world is coming to the city of Jamestown this December. More specifically, the World Juniors hockey exhibition games are returning to the Northwest Arena. Presented by DoubleTree by Hilton Jamestown, the arena will feature two exhibition games leading up to championship tournament in Buffalo: Team USA versus Belarus on December 20, and Belarus versus Slovakia on December 21.
The World Juniors Championship, which is organized annually by the International Ice Hockey Federation, is a competition that presents the top ten under-20 hockey teams in the world. The World Juniors first came to Jamestown in 2010, when international teams played three sold-out games at the former Jamestown Savings Bank Ice Arena.
“We did something right in 2010, and we’re excited to treat [the teams] well again this year,” said Craig Hinderleider, general manager of Northwest Arena, at a press conference last Thursday. “To play host to an international tournament is a wonderful opportunity for us in Jamestown as well as the Northwest Arena.”
Tom McFall, Northwest Arena board member and youth hockey instructor, was also on hand at the press conference to discuss the caliber of the World Juniors athletes. According to McFall, most World Juniors hockey players go on to play for NHL or Olympic teams. In fact, several of the athletes that competed in Jamestown seven years ago are now playing for the NHL, such as Stanley Cup winners Brian Dumoulin (Pittsburgh Penguins) and Nick Leddy (New York Islanders, formerly Chicago Blackhawks), as well as the 2016 NHL Rookie of the Year, Artemi Panarin (Columbus Blue Jackets, formerly Chicago Blackhawks).
“It’s a great day for hockey here in Jamestown,” McFall said. “The talent that you’ll see out on the ice is incredible… it’s second to none. We’ve got a great, strong hockey community in this town, so my hope is to see a packed house at both of those games. Hopefully it has an Olympic feel to it, with the countries going against each other.”
While the World Juniors’ return to Jamestown is certainly exciting news for hockey fans, it is also welcome news for local businesses. Senator Cathy Young spoke briefly at the press conference regarding how the World Juniors will provide an economic boost for the greater Jamestown area.
“[The games] draw people in from a very wide area and it makes a difference for our local gas stations, restaurants, and other venues that we have here,” she said. “I want to congratulate everyone because these things don’t just happen. It’s a lot of work by a lot of people behind the scenes who believe in our area, believe in our people, and believe in the recreational opportunities that we have through this venue.”
Mayor Sam Teresi was also present on Thursday, not only to discuss the economic benefits of the games, but how they will also serve as educational and inspirational experiences for local hockey organizations.
“The economic impact of this is pretty implicit,” he said. “But what I think is not so implicit, and maybe even has a bigger value on the community, is the impact that this will have on all of our aspiring athletes and youth hockey players. It’s important for our young athletes to be able to see this quality of play and to experience the name recognition value of the players that will come through our doors in December.”
Tickets for the World Juniors exhibition games are now on sale. Tickets are $18 and $23 for preferred seating. There are a limited amount of $10 VIP tickets also for sale, which include a pre-game party inside the Jamestown Mattress Arena Club with food and cash bar. Tickets can be purchased by calling 716-484-2624, going online to www.NorthwestArena.com, or visiting the Northwest Arena’s Landmark Chevrolet box office at 319 West Third Street.
Other sponsors of the World Juniors exhibition games include Shults Auto Group and Media One Radio Group.
For more information about upcoming events, follow the Northwest Arena on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.