Ralph looking to snag World U-18 hockey tournament
GRAND FORKS – Ralph Engelstad Arena is hoping to bring another world event to Grand Forks.
“It’s a great opportunity to once again bring the hockey community to Grand Forks and UND,” Hodgson said. “It’s the best hockey players in the world in their age group. With that comes the hockey community in every form – every NHL team’s scouting staff, USA Hockey’s staff ... It’s a great opportunity to maximize the gift Ralph gave us, be the center of the hockey universe and generate big economic impact for the community.”
The World Under-18 tournament started in 1999, featuring 10 teams and many of the top NHL prospects in the world. The event is played each April, usually beginning the same weekend as the NCAA Frozen Four.
The only time that the U.S. has hosted the event was 2009, when it was in Fargo’s Scheels Arena. The U.S. won gold in that event, which featured current NHL players such as Russia’s Vladimir Tarasenko of the St. Louis Blues, Canada’s Ryan O’Reilly of the Colorado Avalanche, USA’s Cam Fowler of the Anaheim Ducks, Switzerland’s Nino Niederreiter of the Minnesota Wild and Sweden’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson of the Phoenix Coyotes and Gabriel Landeskog, the captain of the Avalanche.
The 2015 event will be held in Switzerland, followed by the United States, Slovakia and Russia.
Hodgson acknowledged that The Ralph’s bid could be hurt by the fact that North Dakota also hosted USA’s last Under-18 tournament.
“Often times, there are some desires to spread this stuff out and get it to different parts of the country,” Hodgson said. “It may or may not hurt. All I can say is that it’s out of our hands. We’re going to make a run at it because it could be very successful here.”
USA Hockey will make site visits to its finalists in late August and early September with the intention of announcing the winning site sometime late in the fall.
The Ralph has twice hosted world events with the World Junior Hockey Championship (under-20 players) in 2005 and the World Men’s Curling Championship in 2008.
After hosting one of the highest-attended World Juniors ever in 2005, Ralph Engelstad Arena bid to host the 2011 U20 event. It was one of three finalists along with Buffalo and Minneapolis-St. Paul, but Buffalo ended up winning out.
The United States also will host the 2018 World Juniors, but USA Hockey hasn’t released the bid specifications for that event yet. Ralph Engelstad Arena will likely submit a bid to host that event as well.
“(The U18 tournament) isn’t the World Juniors in regards to the ability to generate revenue and attendance, but it’s another great event,” Hodgson said. “I wasn’t here when we had the World Juniors last time, but all the people that I talked to said that they weren’t aware of the level of play or how good it was going to be. I think we would benefit from that with the World Under-18 event.”