USA Hockey plans to host the World Junior Summer Showcase beginning in late July, but Canada will not participate due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus, according to John Vanbiesbrouck.
Vanbiesbrouck, USA Hockey assistant executive director of hockey operations and the general manager of the United States National Junior Team, said Thursday that he expects Finland and Sweden to join the United States at the nine-day event, scheduled for July 24 to Aug. 1 at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Michigan.
The annual camp, which features practices and at least two exhibition games for each team, is one of the early evaluation events for teams picking their rosters for the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, which will be held Dec. 26 to Jan. 5, 2021, in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta.
"We've heard from Canada and they will not be able to come, but we're checking in every two weeks with Sweden and Finland," Vanbiesbrouck said. "Obviously things are different in Sweden than they are in Finland. There's also the whole restriction part on international travel which looks like it's going to be lifted sometime in June, so we're just staying on top of everything from what's going on newsworthy to bringing it back internally. That's how we're going to go. We're not going to change anything."
The Hockey Canada Board of Directors decided March 13 to cancel all Hockey Canada-sanctioned activities, including national championships, until further notice.
Vanbiesbrouck said it was too soon for any decision to be made on whether fans or media would be allowed to attend.
"We're trying to keep our dates in place, which is a moving target," Vanbiesbrouck said. "For the World Junior Summer Showcase, we're likely going to keep those dates in place unless we find out that we're not allowed to have [the event] based on the ordinances that we have to deal with. Our goal is to have this camp because, after that, it's a no-camp process, really."
USA Hockey invited 44 players to the 2019 World Junior Summer Showcase, which included 11 exhibition games between Canada, Sweden, Finland and the United States. A final U.S. selection camp included 28 players at USA Hockey Arena on Dec. 16-17.
"Another factor here is (NCAA Division I) school openings and having that in place," Vanbiesbrouck said. "We read that Notre Dame went on record to say they're going to have students in class, as is Boston College, so some good movement there. I believe that the Ivy League schools are waiting until July 1 to decide. But we're staying on top of it, organizing and planning with a long-term plan in mind both on our men's and women's side too."
The U.S. National Junior Team will play in Group B at the 2021 WJC, along with Russia, Sweden, Czech Republic and Austria, and its preliminary-round games will be held at Westerner Park Centrium in Red Deer. Group A consists of defending champion Canada, along with Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Germany, and will play its games at Rogers Place in Edmonton.
The United States finished sixth at the 2020 WJC in Czech Republic.