9 Ontario cities to host pre-world jr. hockey games

Toronto, Hamilton and Mississauga will host exhibition games leading up to the 2009 world junior hockey championship in Ottawa.

More than 440,000 tickets sold for main hockey tournament in Ottawa

Toronto, Hamilton and Mississauga in Ontario will host exhibition games leading up to the 2009 world junior hockey championship in Ottawa.

The Canadian squad, which will be vying for a fifth consecutive title, will host Sweden on Dec. 19 at Air Canada Centre in Toronto, followed by dates against Finland at Mississauga's Hershey Centre and Slovakia at Copps Coliseum in Hamilton.

In all, nine different Ontario cities — Kingston, Kitchener, Oshawa, Brockville, Barrie and Brampton — will host 10 games featuring 10 squads in the Dec. 25 to Jan. 5 event.

"We were extremely pleased to facilitate bringing these pre-competition games to communities across Ontario," Cyril Leeder, vice-chair of the host organizing committee, said in a statement.

"With the record-setting attendance we've already established for the championship (more than 440,000 tickets sold) and anticipated record television viewership, we're proud to bring the world's best juniors to an additional 75,000 hockey fans."

Hockey Canada will hold a selection camp for the 35 team hopefuls in Ottawa from Dec. 11-15. The main camp will be held at CFB (Canadian Forces Base) Petawawa — about 150 kilometres outside Ottawa — before playing its exhibition games.

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Former NHL head coach Pat Quinn will oversee the Canadian squad after guiding Canada to the IIHF under-18 championship in April. He also led a group of NHLers to a gold-medal victory at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

The Canadians skated to a thrilling 3-2 win over Sweden in last year's gold-medal at Pardubice, Czech Republic, under coach Craig Hartsburg.

For a second straight year, they will open the 2009 tournament against the Czechs on Dec. 26.

"The world juniors itself has been projected to provide an economic benefit of not less than $45 million and as high as $60 million," said Leeder.

"We're anticipating that these added training camps and games throughout Ontario will bring in many millions more for the communities and generate enthusiasm for the tourney."