The 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation host committee announced Thursday the schedule for the Under-20 World Junior Championship slated for Ufa, Russia.
The tournament, which runs Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, will feature host Russia, Team USA and Team Canada in Group B and playing out of the 7,950-seat Ufa Arena during preliminary-round action.
2013 WJC SCHEDULE
Latvia vs. Finland
Germany vs. Canada
Czech Republic vs. Sweden
Slovakia vs. Russia
Switzerland vs. Latvia
USA vs. Germany
Finland vs. Czech Republic
Canada vs. Slovakia
Sweden vs. Switzerland
Russia vs. USA
Latvia vs. Sweden
Germany vs. Russia
Finland vs. Switzerland
Canada vs. USA
Czech Republic vs. Latvia
Slovakia vs. Germany
Switzerland vs. Czech Republic
USA vs. Slovakia
Sweden vs. Finland
Russia vs. Canada
Canada will play the United States on Dec. 30 before battling 2011 silver-medalist Russia on New Year's Eve. The U.S. team will play Russia on Dec. 28.
For the last 36 years, the World Junior Championship has provided somewhat of a springboard to those players looking to solidify their status as a player capable of coming up big in pressure moments.
Many of today's current NHL stars have proven themselves on this international platform, including Sidney Crosby, Mike Richards and Jarome Iginla for Canada; Patrick Kane, Zach Parise and Bobby Ryan for the United States; Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Ilya Kovalchuk of Russia; Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and the Sedin twins for Sweden; Martin Havlat, Milan Hejduk and Tomas Kaberle for the Czech Republic; Teemu Selanne and the Koivu brothers for Finland and Marian Hossa, Marian Gaborik and Jaroslav Halak for Slovakia.
The United States., Canada and Russia will be joined in Group B by Slovakia and Germany.
Defending gold medalist Sweden, which scored a 1-0 overtime victory against Russia in last year's WJC final to end 30 years of championship futility, heads the Group A field with Finland, Czech Republic, Switzerland and Latvia. Sweden will open preliminary-round play against Czech Republic on Dec. 26. The Swedes will face rival Finland on New Year's Eve. All Group A games will be held at the Sports Palace in Ufa.
Canada still leads the all-time standings with 15 gold medals, followed by the 13 held by the Soviet Union/Russia. Canada had been to 10 straight gold-medal games before suffering a 6-5 semifinal round loss to Russia last January.
The U.S. team finished a disappointing seventh in last year's tournament in Edmonton and Calgary, Alta., needing a 12-2 victory against Latvia in the opening game of the relegation round in order to earn a ticket to the 2013 WJC.
"I think as we look back on this tournament, it comes down to the fact the performance wasn't what all of us expected," USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations, Jim Johannson, told NHL.com. "Do we have to look at some of the makeup of the team? Certainly. But it comes down to performance on the ice and we didn't get that performance."
The seventh-place finish was the lowest for the Americans at the WJC since finishing eighth in 1999.
The quarterfinals will be played Jan. 2 at 3 and 7 p.m. ET and the semifinals will be played Jan. 3 at 3 and 7 p.m. The bronze-medal game will be Jan. 5 at 3 p.m.; and the gold-medal game will be played Jan. 5 at 7 p.m. All knockout-round games will be played at Ufa Arena.
Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale