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Buffalo named host of the 2011 world junior hockey championship @NHLdotcom

BUFFALO, N.Y. - The 2011 world junior hockey championship will be held in Buffalo, USA Hockey announced Monday.

The 10-day tournament is the premier international event for the best male players under the age of 20. Ten different countries will be represented, and 31 games will take place over 10 days starting on Dec. 26, 2010.

"This is a city with a reputation of a hockey town, and a franchise that has a reputation of being very good in the community," said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. "We believe this will be the most successful World Championship held in the United States."

The Buffalo Sabres sponsored the bid on behalf of the city, which was immediately considered a favourite because of its proximity to hockey-mad Canada - particularly Toronto, just 90 minutes away. Buffalo is also among the NHL's strongest markets and successfully hosted the NCAA Frozen Four tournament in 2003.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Sabres owner Thomas Golisano attended a Monday afternoon news conference for the announcement.

"We're extremely supportive of USA Hockey and Hockey Canada, but events of this magnitude don't take place unless initiated at the local level. Without Tom Golisano and the Sabres organization, this doesn't happen," said Bettman.

Political leaders who had a hand in helping Buffalo land the event were also at the news conference, including U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins and Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown.

The tournament is estimated to bring US$20 million in economic benefits to the region.

"This is a huge win for Buffalo and all of hockey-loving western New York," said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer in a prepared statement. "This marquee event will bring much-needed tourism dollars and first-rate hockey talent from around the world."

As part of their bid, the Sabres proposed playing at both HSBC Arena and at Niagara University, about a half-hour drive north of the city.

Other finalists to host the tournament were Grand Forks, N.D., and Minneapolis-St. Paul, each of which had previously hosted the event.

Scotty Bowman, who lives in Buffalo and is the current senior adviser of hockey operations for the Chicago Blackhawks, will serve as honorary vice-chairman.

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