World Junior A Challenge kicks off in Yarmouth Staff

11/3/2012 5:01:03 PM

YARMOUTH, N.S. - Some of the world's top young hockey players have gathered in Yarmouth, N.S., for the 2012 World Junior A Challenge.

The tournament opens Monday when Russia takes on the Czech Republic, while Canada East meets the United States in the late game. Canada West, the defending gold medallist, and Switzerland play their tournament openers the following day.

The 2012 World Junior A Challenge will follow the same format as previous years - the six teams will be separated into two groups of three teams. The group winners will receive an automatic bye to the semifinals, while the second-place and third-place teams will crossover for the quarter-finals.

The gold medal game, which will be shown nationally on TSN2, the official broadcasters of Hockey Canada, is set for Sunday.

The 2012 World Junior A Challenge marks just the second time in the tournament's seven-year history that it is being held east of Saskatchewan. Yarmouth joins Yorkton and Humboldt, Sask. (2006), Trail and Nelson, B.C. (2007), Camrose, Alta. (2008), Summerside, P.E.I. (2009), Penticton, B.C. (2010) and Langley, B.C. (2011) as host cities.

Since the first World Junior A Challenge in 2006 in Yorkton and Humboldt, Sask., more than 100 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including 18 first-round selections (Beau Bennett, Alexander Burmistrov, Joe Colborne, Nikita Filatov, Mikhail Grigorenko, Dmitri Kulikov, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Hampus Lindholm, John Moore, Vladislav Namestnikov, Riley Nash, Dylan Olsen, Jordan Schmaltz, Jaden Schwartz, Brendan Smith, Kyle Turris, Andrei Vasilevski and Nail Yakupov).

Every gold medal game at the World Junior A Challenge has featured at least one Canadian team. Canada West won gold at the first two tournaments, in 2006 and 2007, before taking the top prize last year; it also earned silver in 2008 and 2009. Canada East was silver medallist in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011, and claimed bronze in 2008.