Winnipeg Free Press - - SPORTS I HOCKEY -

VAN­COU­VER — A change of scenery seems like it might pay off for an an­nual hol­i­day tra­di­tion.

Ticket de­mand for the 2019 world ju­nior hockey cham­pi­onship — Dec. 26, 2018, to Jan. 5, 2019, in Van­cou­ver and Vic­to­ria — has “ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions,” said Ri­ley Wi­wchar, di­rec­tor of the tour­na­ment.

The at­ten­dance will be watched closely at this year’s event af­ter dis­ap­point­ing turnouts — and com­plaints about ticket prices — three of the past four years in Buf­falo, N.Y., and Toronto/Mon­treal.

“The de­mand is def­i­nitely there and we’ve still got a few months to go. So we plan on the (are­nas) be­ing full,” Wi­wchar said.

Tick­ets have been pur­chased from around the globe, in­clud­ing France, Ger­many, Rus­sia, Fin­land, Swe­den, the U.S. and ev­ery Cana­dian prov­ince, he added.

At­ten­dance at last year’s tour­na­ment in Buf­falo — just across the Peace Bridge from Canada — was dis­mal, with thou­sands of empty seats for many games.

Fewer than 10,000 peo­ple came out for Canada’s games in the pre­lim­i­nary rounds and just 5,533 showed up for the team’s quar­ter­fi­nal win over Switzer­land.

The ex­cep­tion was the first-ever out­door world ju­nior game, which drew a record­set­ting crowd of 44,592 to see the U.S. beat Canada 4-3 at New Era Field in Orchard Park, N.Y. — the home of the NFL’s Buf­falo Bills.


Man­i­toba Moose right-winger JC Lipon fires a puck dur­ing prac­tice at Bell MTS Place on Fri­day morn­ing.

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