Under-17 Challenge tickets hot sellers

MORRIS DALLA COSTA -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 11:08 AM ET

World Under-17 Hockey Challenge chair Joe O'Neill said the event is already approaching a record for most tickets sold.

"I don't have an exact number but I know the tickets have really been moving," he said. "A lot of people are giving them as stocking stuffers and if we get the right teams in the final, there's a chance we could sell out the John Labatt Centre."

The right teams would be Ontario versus just about anybody else, although Ontario against the United States would be a pretty good contest.

The top young players from Ontario, the west coast (Pacific), the prairies (West), Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. the U.S, Finland, Germany, Slovakia and Russia will play 32 games in this area.

Ontario will play in Pool A with defending 2006 champion Quebec (the Canada Winter Games substituted for the 2007 World-Under 17 Hockey Challenge this year), bronze medallist Pacific, Finland and Slovakia. Ontario plays its first game against Pacific Dec. 29 at 7:30 p.m. at the JLC.

"Some of the smaller venues like Strathroy will sell out," O'Neill said. "I've got people telling me they'll probably buy a ticket to the Dec. 30 game between the U.S. and Russia and I'm saying, 'you better get one now because it's going to be sold out.'

"I think it's only going to get more popular as people realize the calibre of hockey these kids play."

O'Neill said the tournament will raise a substantial amount of money for a number of minor hockey associations, including the Greater London Hockey Association, the London Junior Knights, London Devilettes, the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs and the George Bray Hockey Association.

Ontario opens up with an exhibition game at the Timken Complex in St. Thomas, versus Russia on Friday, Dec. 28 at 7 p.m.

Regular tournament games will also be held in Woodstock, Lucan and Stratford.


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