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Volume 24 No. 214
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Decision Coming On Whether U.S.-Canada World Juniors Game Will Be Held Outdoors

A decision will be made today on whether tomorrow's Team USA-Team Canada game in the World Junior Championship will "remain outdoors at New Era Field" amid frigid temperatures and snowy conditions, according to Miguel Rodriguez of the BUFFALO NEWS. Pegula Sports & Entertainment Dir of Communications Don Heins said that a committee meeting is scheduled for 12:00pm ET to "give final approval for the game to go forward." If the game "cannot be played outdoors because of weather conditions, it will move to KeyBank Center." Heins said that the committee needing to give final approval was "part of the initial agreement for the event." Because the game is part of the round-robin Group A schedule, it "must be played." USA Hockey Senior Dir of Communications Dave Fischer, a member of the organizing committee, said, "We're always evaluating weather conditions, playing conditions. At this point, everything looks terrific and we're looking to an outstanding game Friday" (BUFFALO NEWS, 12/28). In Buffalo, Jack Goods notes Team USA's practice at New Era Field yesterday was a "testament to the difficulty of keeping ice in good condition in 12-degree weather." Players and staff "placed water bottles over divots in the ice throughout practice, steering skaters away from particularly beat up areas." There were about 10 "scattered around the rink when the Zamboni was called out." However, no one seemed "particularly concerned about the ice playing a negative factor." Unfortunately for the ice keepers, tomorrow's forecast "calls for a high of 18 degrees and low of 12" (BUFFALO NEWS, 12/28).

HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF: The NATIONAL POST's Michael Traikos notes the World Juniors, which "struggled to fill NHL-size venues in Toronto and Montreal last year, is not off to a great start in Buffalo." KeyBank Center, which has a capacity of more than 19,000, was "about half full during Canada’s 4-2 win against Finland" on Tuesday. Later that night, attendance was "so dismal that organizers closed off the 300 level for the U.S.-Denmark game and brought fans together in the lower bowls to give the illusion of a sold-out arena." Traikos: "Part of the problem is price. Just because you are holding an event in an NHL rink does not mean you can charge NHL prices." While making the tournament "more affordable might help, the bigger issue is exhaustion." This is basically the "third time in the last four years that the same region of fans is being asked to pay NHL prices for a junior-level product that lacks a Connor McDavid or a Jack Eichel to make it worthwhile" (NATIONAL POST, 12/28).