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Next year's world juniors smaller in Saskatchewan

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OTTAWA - It’s a party that Winnipeg never got a chance to host, but at least it'll be thrown in the neighbour’s house.

In the waning moments of a record-setting World Junior Hockey Championship in Ottawa, members of the Saskatoon/Regina 2010 host committee promised a smaller-yet-charming event on the prairie next year.

Organizers in Ottawa announced today that at least 453,29 tickets will have been sold for the 31-game tournament, the most ever for the WJHC, and a 21 per cent increase over Vancouver in 2006.

Scotiabank Place, the site of Team Canada games, has set four single-game records, including one for the gold medal final game, with more than 20,400 tickets sold as of this afternoon in a building with a 20,500 capacity.

Those numbers will be impossible to match in Saskatchewan, which will utilize a 9,000-seat arena in Regina and the host Credit Union Centre in Saskatoon, which is currently being expanded to seat 15,000.

"We’ll do what we’re capable of doing," noted Jack Brodsky, president of the Saskatoon committee. "We’ve hosted a lot of big events. We had the Junos a few years ago, we’ve hosted Briers and we’ve done great jobs. We’re not going to get 20,000 people in the building. That’s not going to happen, because we don’t have that sort of size.

"But in terms of the hospitality and charm that Saskatchewan has, I think we can do great things in all sorts of areas. It’s more than just about the number of seats in the building."

One thing is certain, however: the 2010 organizers will be banking on Manitobans to flock across the border, just as they did for the Grand Forks tournament in 2005.

"We’ve had a booth set up here (in Ottawa) and lots and lots of interest from across the country," Brodsky said. "So far we’re focusing just in Saskatchewan, to get ticket sales going. We certainly have every intention of marketing this right across the country, particularly in the neighbouring provinces, like Manitoba and Alberta."

Regina will host 10 tournament games, plus two Canada pre-tournament games. The 21 remaining games -- including all of Canada’s contests and the medal round -- will be held in Saskatoon.

Told that Manitobans are still smarting at losing out in the bidding process with Hockey Canada to host the 2010, Brodsky just offered a sympathetic chuckle.

"Yeah, I know that," he said. "It’s okay, you’ll get it another time."

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