The 2023 World Junior Ball Hockey Championships kicked off in Liberec, Czech Republic today with some amazing games and a fun and intense atmosphere.
The Liberec 2023 Organizing Committee did a fantastic job welcoming in the teams, staff, and volunteers who made day one such a huge success. But the fans in attendance really brought the tournament to life as they rallied to show support for their respective nations.
Liberec Volunteer Jan Havel described the atmosphere.
“The atmosphere during the matches wasn’t great just from the hosting country fans. Every fan from every country in attendance deserves a big credit because it really surpassed my expectations. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming days.”
It was a long day of hockey that started with the host country defeating Switzerland 9-0 in the U20 Division.
Switzerland and the Czechs in the opening game
The other match taking place on the second rink saw one of the best games of the day with Canada and the USA going to a shootout after ending 3-3 in regulation.
USA and Canada squaring off in the U20 Division
The Canadians got the win as the American shooter hit the post on the final attempt after making a great move to get the Canadian goalie out of position. The Canadians triumphantly celebrated their victory over their rival Americans.
Game winning shootout goal by Canada
Great Britain showed they came prepared to battle as they fought the Czechia White team in the U16 Division, but ultimately fell short 5-2 in a fast paced battle. The Czechia Red U16 team got their first victory with a 4-0 shutout over the Canada East squad. The fans in attendance supporting their home teams showed why the Czech Republic has some of the best fans in the world as parents, family, and friends were seen hugging and clapping with the victorious team after the game.
Canada West and the Czechia Red team doing battle
It was a tough day for Slovakia in the U16 Division as they were defeatedly soundly by Canada West 7-0. Slovakia has been a powerhouse for several years in the sport and the Canadians made it look easy against them. They’ll have to regroup overnight to get back to form.
Another fantastic game was the U20 matchup between Slovakia and Canada where Canada got out to a 4-1 lead and managed to fend off a late surge from Slovakia, taking the game 4-3. The Canadians looked sharp on their power play throughout the game. Slovakia had several chances to tie late in the game but the Canadian netminder made some great saves as well as his defense blocking some shots.
Canada celebrates a goal against Slovakia
ISBHF Executive Director & Secretary David Tor had this to say about the opening day:
“Day 1 of action brought some excellent games and ball hockey action. Particularly in the U20 category the games went toe to toe, and hosts Czechia sit on top of the table. Tomorrow promises to bring another set of excellent games as we progress in the round robin.”
Thank you again to everyone who made the opening day a fun and exciting time for all the attendees in Liberec. Tomorrow will be another amazing day of ball hockey at the 2023 World Junior Ball Hockey Championships!