Photo: The Canadian Press

Juniors Ready For Action at Olympic Venue

When Canada opens up the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship on Thursday at the home of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia against Slovakia, the team will be looking to end a string of four consecutive title wins by the U.S. and reign supreme for the first time since 2008.

Leading them along the way will be head coach Don Hay (Kamloops, BC) who returns to coach a national team for a third time. Hay won a gold medal as head coach with Canada’s National Junior Team in 1995 and a bronze medal as head coach of Canada’s National Junior Team in 2012.

“Any opportunity to work with Hockey Canada is a special one, “said Hay “As a staff we look forward to getting to Russia and getting to work. We’re excited to get the team on the ice and begin working towards a third under-18 world championship for Canada.”

In 2012, the team claimed bronze to add to their total of three medals won at the tournament since its creation in 1999. Canada has won two gold medals in the tournament (2003, 2008).

Historically Canada has not always been able to send its strongest team to the U18 championship due to many of the top Canadian stars still being involved in the Canadian Hockey League junior playoffs during the month of April.

So far Canada is 1-1 in exhibitions in Sochi – site of the 2014 Olympic Games for hockey. After being defeated 4-1 by the Americans on Sunday, Canada bounced back on Tuesday to defeat the Czech Republic 4-2.

Canada opens the preliminary round game Thursday at 10 a.m. EST against Slovakia. That match is followed by games against Germany, Switzerland and Sweden. Playoffs start on April 25.