The IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championships, commonly known simply as the World Juniors, are an annual event organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation for national under-20 ice hockey teams from around the world. They are traditionally held in late December, ending in early January. The tournament usually attracts top hockey players in this age category. However, some NHL teams do not release their top players as the tournament overlaps with the NHL season.
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.
IIHF World U20 Championship History
The first official tournament was held in 1977, although the first three tournaments from 1974 to 1976 were held unofficially. The tournament has been dominated by the teams from Soviet Union/CIS/Russia and Canada, together accounting for 31 of the 44 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 18 golds, while the Soviet Union, the CIS and Russia combined have 13 golds.
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 and during the holiday season. The Globe and Mail writer Bruce Dowbiggin credits TSN, along with Canada’s strong performance at the tournament, for turning it from an obscure non-event when it acquired the rights in 1991.
At editions of the tournament held in the country, games involving Team Canada consistently sell out NHL arenas, offering large profit guarantees to Hockey Canada and the IIHF. In the 21st Century, Canada has and will continue to host the tournament every second or third year 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.
Here List of IIHF World Under-20 Championship medalists and List of IIHF World Under-20 Championship Gold Medal Games. The winners by season listed below:
The unofficial tournaments held prior to 1977 are not included in this table. Countries in italics no longer compete at the World Championships. Here is the list of Medal table:
Canada, Finland and Sweden have participated in all 44 IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championships as well as the three unofficial World Junior Championships. USSR/CIS/Russia and Czechoslovakia/Czech Republic have also participated in all official and unofficial World Junior Championships, and the United States has participated in all except the unofficial tournament in 1976.
When Czechoslovakia peacefully split in 1993, the Czech Republic remained in Pool A but Slovakia was placed in Pool C. Slovakia was promoted to the top division for the 1996 Championships and has remained there since. Starting with the 1996 tournament, the competition was increased from an 8-team round-robin to the current 10-team format, including elimination rounds. Since then, Switzerland has become a regular participant.
Germany has been a frequent participant in the top pool, having played there roughly half the time in the past decade. Latvia, Belarus, and Kazakhstan have also each made a number of top division appearances since the early 1990s. Less frequent top pool appearances have been made by Austria, Denmark, France, Japan, Norway, Poland and Ukraine.
At the most recent championship, held in the Czech Republic in 2020, participating teams included Canada, the Czech Republic, Finland, Germany, Kazakhstan, Russia, Switzerland, Slovakia, Sweden, and the United States.
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