BUFFALO -- The United States and Canada will play outdoors at New Era Field, home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills, in the preliminary round of the 2018 IIHF World Junior Championship on Dec. 29, 2017.
USA Hockey and the Buffalo Sabres announced the date and matchup of the first outdoor game to be played in any IIHF world championship at KeyBank Center in Buffalo on Friday.
"It'll be the largest crowd to ever attend a junior hockey game, and it's terrific with our friends from the Sabres and the Bills to be able to make history again as part of the World Junior Championships 2018 in Buffalo," USA Hockey executive director David Ogrean said.
The U.S.-Canada outdoor game highlights the return of the tournament to Buffalo for the first time since the 2011 WJC.
Video: USA vs. Canada in WJC outdoor game at New Era Field
"We call it 'the future stars of the game,' but the reality is that it's a really short future because they're on NHL ice in a real quick time from these championships," USA Hockey assistant executive director of hockey operations Jim Johannson said. "The reality now with the coverage the event gets, and the magnitude of the game, coupled with seeing the young stars in the NHL rising up and almost all the connectivity from the federation standpoint, starts at the World Juniors … It's an exciting time for the players, and Buffalo fans will again see some of the greatest talent that's going to be very soon on the ice in Buffalo and other arenas in the NHL."
Since the 2011 WJC, HarborCenter was built next door to KeyBank Center, and those two venues, along with New Era Field, will host all the games.
U.S.-Canada will be the first hockey game played at New Era Field since the 2008 NHL Winter Classic when the Sabres hosted the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"My second day on the job [with the Sabres in 2015] we pitched [hosting the 2018 WJC], and it was a very prideful moment when we were able to obtain the opportunity to bring back the World Juniors because we know what it means for the hockey community, but more so because of the impact for our community," Sabres and Bills president Russ Brandon said. "It's an exciting time, but then to add the outdoor game, we did that deal on a napkin in 2008, so it's come a long way from those days."