|Current season, competition or edition:|
2020 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships
|Inaugural season||1974 (unofficial)|
|No. of teams||10|
|Canada (18th title)|
|Most titles||Canada (18 titles)|
|Relegation to||Division I|
The IIHF Ice Hockey World Junior Championships (WJC), commonly known simply as the World Juniors, are an annual event organized by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) 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.
The competition's profile is particularly high in Canada; its stature has been credited to Canada's strong performance in the tournament (it has won the gold medal eighteen times since its inception), the role of hockey in Canadian culture, along with strong media coverage and fan attendance. As such, in recent years, nearly half of the tournaments have been held in Canadian cities, with the remainder being held in Europe and the United States.
Canada is the defending champion of the tournament, after defeating Russia to win the 2020 edition in the Czech Republic.
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 (through 2020). 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 (which, however, also began growing in prominence due to the Punch-up in Piestany) to one of Canada's most beloved annual sports events, and at the same time cementing the link between Canadian nationalism and hockey, and inspiring the NHL's Winter Classic Based on increasing attendances for countries repeatedly hosting the event, the popularity of the tournament seems to be growing in other nations as well.
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.Buffalo, New York, USA hosted the tournament in 2011 and 2018; in both cases, proximity to Canada's population core in Southern Ontario was a key factor in the city winning the bidding rights.
One of the most infamous incidents in WJC history occurred in 1987 in Piestany, Czechoslovakia (now part of Slovakia), where a bench-clearing brawl occurred between Canada and the Soviet Union. It began when the Soviet Union's Pavel Kostichkin took a two-handed slash at Canadian player Theoren Fleury. The Soviet Union's Evgeny Davydov then came off the bench, eventually leading to both benches emptying. The officials, unable to break up the numerous fights, left the ice and eventually tried shutting off the arena lights, but the brawl lasted for 20 minutes before the IIHF declared the game null and void. A 35-minute emergency meeting was held, resulting in the delegates voting 7-1 (the sole dissenter was Canadian Dennis McDonald) to eject both teams from the tournament. The Canadian team chose to leave rather than stay for the end-of-tournament dinner, from which the Soviet team was banned.
While the Soviets were out of medal contention, Canada was playing for the gold medal and was leading 4-2 at the time of the brawl. The gold medal ultimately went to Finland, hosts Czechoslovakia took the silver and Sweden, who had previously been eliminated from medal contention, was awarded the bronze.
The winners by season listed below.
|Year||Gold||Silver||Bronze||Host city (cities)||Host country (countries)|
|1974||Soviet Union||Finland||Canada||Leningrad||Soviet Union|
|1975||Soviet Union||Canada||Sweden||Winnipeg and Brandon
Minneapolis, Bloomington and Fargo
|1976||Soviet Union||Canada||Czechoslovakia||Tampere, Turku, Pori and Rauma||Finland|
|Year||Gold||Silver||Bronze||Host city (cities)||Host country (countries)|
|1977||Soviet Union (1)||Canada (1)||Czechoslovakia (1)||Zvolen and Banská Bystrica||Czechoslovakia|
|1978||Soviet Union (2)||Sweden (1)||Canada (1)||Montreal and Quebec City||Canada|
|1979||Soviet Union (3)||Czechoslovakia (1)||Sweden (1)||Karlstad and Karlskoga||Sweden|
|1980||Soviet Union (4)||Finland (1)||Sweden (2)||Helsinki and Vantaa||Finland|
|1981||Sweden (1)||Finland (2)||Soviet Union (1)||Füssen, Landsberg and Kaufbeuren||West Germany|
|1982||Canada (1)||Czechoslovakia (2)||Finland (1)||Bloomington, Minneapolis and Duluth
Winnipeg and Kenora
| United States|
|1983||Soviet Union (5)||Czechoslovakia (3)||Canada (2)||Leningrad||Soviet Union|
|1984||Soviet Union (6)||Finland (3)||Czechoslovakia (2)||Norrköping and Nyköping||Sweden|
|1985||Canada (2)||Czechoslovakia (4)||Soviet Union (2)||Helsinki and Turku||Finland|
|1986||Soviet Union (7)||Canada (2)||United States (1)||Hamilton, Toronto and London||Canada|
|1987||Finland[?](1)||Czechoslovakia[?](5)||Sweden[?](3)||Pieany, Topoany, Tren?ín and Nitra||Czechoslovakia|
|1988||Canada (3)||Soviet Union (1)||Finland (2)||Moscow||Soviet Union|
|1989||Soviet Union (8)||Sweden (2)||Czechoslovakia (3)||Anchorage and Eagle River||United States|
|1990||Canada (4)||Soviet Union (2)||Czechoslovakia (4)||Helsinki and Turku||Finland[?]|
|1991||Canada (5)||Soviet Union (3)||Czechoslovakia (5)||Saskatoon||Canada|
|1992||CIS (1)||Sweden (3)||United States (2)||Füssen and Kaufbeuren||Germany|
|1993||Canada (6)||Sweden (4)||Czech and Slovak Republics (6)||Gävle, Uppsala and Falun||Sweden|
|1994||Canada (7)||Sweden (5)||Russia (1)||Ostrava and Frýdek-Místek||Czech Republic|
|1995||Canada (8)||Russia (1)||Sweden (4)||Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary||Canada|
|1996||Canada (9)||Sweden (6)||Russia (2)||Boston, Amherst and Marlborough||United States|
|1997||Canada (10)||United States (1)||Russia (3)||Geneva and Morges||Switzerland|
|1998||Finland (2)||Russia (2)||Switzerland (1)||Helsinki and Hämeenlinna||Finland|
|1999||Russia (1)||Canada (3)||Slovakia (1)||Winnipeg, Brandon and Selkirk||Canada|
|2000||Czech Republic (1)||Russia (3)||Canada (3)||Skellefteå and Umeå||Sweden|
|2001||Czech Republic (2)||Finland (4)||Canada (4)||Moscow and Podolsk||Russia|
|2002||Russia (2)||Canada (4)||Finland (3)||Pardubice and Hradec Králové||Czech Republic|
|2003||Russia (3)||Canada (5)||Finland (4)||Halifax and Sydney||Canada|
|2004||United States (1)||Canada (6)||Finland (5)||Helsinki and Hämeenlinna||Finland|
|2005||Canada (11)||Russia (4)||Czech Republic (1)||Grand Forks and Thief River Falls||United States|
|2006||Canada (12)||Russia (5)||Finland (6)||Vancouver, Kelowna and Kamloops||Canada|
|2007||Canada (13)||Russia (6)||United States (3)||Leksand and Mora||Sweden|
|2008||Canada (14)||Sweden (7)||Russia (4)||Pardubice and Liberec||Czech Republic|
|2009||Canada (15)||Sweden (8)||Russia (5)||Ottawa||Canada|
|2010||United States (2)||Canada (7)||Sweden (5)||Saskatoon and Regina||Canada|
|2011||Russia (4)||Canada (8)||United States (4)||Buffalo and Lewiston||United States|
|2012||Sweden (2)||Russia (7)||Canada (5)||Calgary and Edmonton||Canada|
|2013||United States (3)||Sweden (9)||Russia (6)||Ufa||Russia|
|2014||Finland (3)||Sweden (10)||Russia (7)||Malmö||Sweden|
|2015||Canada (16)||Russia (8)||Slovakia (2)||Toronto and Montreal||Canada|
|2016||Finland (4)||Russia (9)||United States (5)||Helsinki||Finland|
|2017||United States (4)||Canada (9)||Russia (8)||Montreal and Toronto||Canada|
|2018||Canada (17)||Sweden (11)||United States (6)||Buffalo and Orchard Park||United States|
|2019||Finland (5)||United States (2)||Russia (9)||Vancouver and Victoria||Canada|
|2020||Canada (18)||Russia (10)||Sweden (6)||Ostrava and T?inec||Czech Republic|
The unofficial tournaments held prior to 1977 are not included in this table.
Countries in italics no longer compete at the World Championships.
| Czech Republic
These tournaments have been announced:
|Year||Host city (cities)||Host country|
|2022||Edmonton and Red Deer||Canada|
Hockey Canada stated in January 2019 that Canada would also host the tournament in 2024, 2026, 2028, and 2031, though the 2022 and 2024 events have now been swapped between Canada and Sweden due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
|Host country||Tournaments||Future tournaments|
| Czech Republic
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 (when the Soviet Union broke up, Russia remained in Pool A, while all other former Soviet republics started competing in Pool C in 1993) 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 (Slovak Republic) was placed in Pool C (now Division II). 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.
A player is eligible to play in the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships if:
If a player who has never played in IIHF-organized competition wishes to switch national eligibility, he must have played in competitions for two consecutive years in the new country without playing in another country, as well as show his move to the new country's national association with an international transfer card. In case the player has previously played in IIHF-organized competition but wishes to switch national eligibility, he must have played in competitions for four consecutive years in the new country without playing in another country, he must show his move to the new country's national association with an international transfer card, as well as be a citizen of the new country. A player may only switch national eligibility once.
At the conclusion of each tournament, the Directorate of the IIHF presents awards to the Top Goalie, Forward and Defenceman of the tournament. The media attending the event select an All-Star team separately from this.
The following television networks and websites broadcast World Junior Championship games on television or online.
|Russia||Match TV |
Channel One Russia
|Switzerland||UPC Switzerland (MySports)|
|United States||NHL Network|
TSN is the IIHF's main broadcast partner for this tournament. TSN.ca carries all Canada, select preliminary round, and all medal round games live, as well as most games on demand after their completion.
Starting with the 2013 tournament, a paywall and geo-block was implemented on TSN's online coverage. The same system applies to Canadian cable subscribers and subscribers of TSN's streaming service - users cannot stream the tournament outside of Canada on TSN Direct.
Norway is currently a 'blackout' zone. Neither Eurosport or Viasat carry the tournament.
Media related to IIHF World U20 Championship at Wikimedia Commons