All eyes will be on Edmonton in Alberta, Canada on Christmas Day – and it has nothing to do with the festive season. Not for ice hockey fans, anyway.
December 25th marks the first day of play in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship event. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the world – and the world of sport – over the past few months. It means there will be no spectators on hand to watch and cheer their favorite teams this year. However, the action promises to be as thrilling as ever.
Three matches lined up for Christmas Day
It falls to Switzerland and Slovakia to strike the first puck on day one of the competition. The match begins at noon local time. Four hours later, Germany face off against Finland. The day’s action rounds off with Russia versus the USA at 19:30 local time.
All matches are lined up for Rogers Place in Edmonton. The arena has already hosted spectator-free events in 2020, so it has proven it is experienced and well-equipped to meet all necessary safety measures in the face of the pandemic.
A further three matches on December 26th
The day after, we’ll see another three matches taking place:
- Sweden vs Czech Republic
- Germany vs Canada
- USA vs Austria
So, it will be a busy couple of days for Germany and the USA, as the preliminary rounds get underway. These are due for completion on New Year’s Eve, so ice hockey fans will go into the New Year knowing which teams are competing in the quarterfinals on Saturday January 2nd, 2021.
Two days later, the two semifinals will occur. Finally, on Tuesday January 5th, the bronze medal play-off is first on the rink at 15:30 local time. The two teams qualifying for the final will compete in the gold medal match at 19:30 on the same day.
Could Canada take gold?
The team managed that exact feat in 2015 and 2018. They beat Russia in the gold medal match in Montreal/Toronto in 2015, while Sweden fell to the team in 2018 in Buffalo, New York.
There are many matches to complete throughout the group stages before we know which teams have made the quarterfinals. One thing is certain though – we’ll be ready to enjoy some ice hockey action come Christmas Day 2020.