The United States and Canada will again go head-to-head in the preliminary round at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, grouped together and scheduled for a New Years Eve battle in Malmo, Sweden during the 2014 tournament. The IIHF released the full 2014 schedule on Tuesday.
The USA will attempt to defend its 2013 gold medal in Malmo, while Canada hopes to bounce back from a disappointing fourth-place finish. Both teams will compete in Group A, while 2013 silver-medallist Sweden and bronze-medallist Russia will compete in Group B. All four nations are likely to advance beyond the preliminary round, which has been reconfigured in a new format for 2014.
The top four teams from each of the two groups with advance to the quarterfinals, which eliminates the bye to the semifinal round for the group stage winners that had been in place since 2003. The relegation format also will change as the fifth and last place teams in each group will play a best-of-three series with the loser heading down to Division I.
Canada has been tabbed to play the first game of the tournament, a December 26 clash against Germany at 7:30 a.m. ET. They will play again two days later against the Czech Republic at 11:30 a.m. ET and again on December 30 against Slovakia, also at 11:30 a.m. ET. They will finish up group play against the U.S. on December 31 at 11:30 a.m. ET.
The U.S. begins their tournament on the same day as Canada, with their opener coming at 11:30 a.m. ET on December 26 against the Czech Republic. They play Slovakia at 7:30 a.m. ET on December 28 and Germany at 9 a.m. ET on December 29 before squaring off against the Canadians.
The quarterfinals are set for January 2, and the semifinals for January 4. There is no break before the medal games of the tournament, with the bronze and gold medal games following the next day on January 5.
Malmo will play host for the first time, with the bulk of games being played at Malmo Arena. The arena opened just five years ago and seats 13,000, while a handful of games will be played at Malmo Isstadion, which seats 5,800.