The 2008 World Junior A Challenge was an international Junior “A” ice hockey tournament hosted by Hockey Canada. The 2008 World Junior A Challenge was hosted by the Canadian City of Camrose, Alberta from November 1 to November 9, 2008 at the Edgeworth Centre. The opening ceremony included a performance from Tom Cochrane.
Same as the 2007 World Junior A Challenge, the 2008 edition will include Belarus, Canada East and West, Germany, Russia, and the United States. Slovakia, again, is not competing and has not since the 2006 World Junior A Challenge.
Only three exhibition games were scheduled for prior to the 2008 WJAC tournament. On October 29, Canada West challenged the varsity team from Augustana University College. The West defeated Augustana 9-2. The same night, Canada East played the varsity team from Portage College. The East was victorious, taking the game 7-1. Two nights later, Canada East and Canada West met in Camrose for an exhibition rematch of the 2006 and 2007 tournament finals. The East took the game 4-2.
On November 2, the tournament kicked off with the opening game between Belarus and defending 2-time champion Canada West. The West went up early 2-0 only to have Belarus take one back late in the first frame. The West entered the second period with a 2-1 lead only to give up costly goals 13 seconds and 28 seconds into the frame—leading to a Belorussian 3-2 lead. Around two minutes later the Canadians came back to tie the game at 3’s. There was no scoring during the rest of regulation. Overtime was uneventful, so the game went to a shootout. Belarus’ Bialinski stopped all three penalty shots, while Canada’s Bodnarchuk let in his first, shot by Yauheni Salamonau, and stopped his second. The result was a 4-3 upset victory for a Belorussian squad that had only won once in its last 8 WJAC games.
The early game on November 3 was between the Germans and Canada East. After giving up a goal 49 seconds into the game to Germany, the East team scored 3 goals in the first period and never looked back in a 6-3 victory. The Germans looked solid in the game despite only having won a single WJAC game in eight tried entering the game. In the late game, the Russians faced Belarus. Riding the momentum of 4 early goals in the first and second, the Russians cruised to their first win of the tournament, 10-4. The loss was on the heals of a Belorussian upset of the two-time defending champion Canada West and gives the West a chance at first with a big enough win over the Russians in their final game of the round robin.
On November 4, the Germans set the stage for the second massive upset of this World Junior A Challenge. The Americans, playing their first game of the tournaments, led 1-0 after the first and 2-0 early in the second period. That is when the bottom dropped out. Germany started scoring and just did not stop. In the end, the Germans scored 5 unanswered goals and won the game 5-2. The Germans finish the round robin with a win and a loss, awaiting the outcome of the November 5 game between the Americans and Canada East. In the late game, Canada West was triumphant over the Russian squad, overcoming an early deficit to win the game 5-2. This win gives all three teams in Pool A a 1-1 record, but because Canada West’s loss was in overtime they clinch the tie-breaker and get a bye past the quarter-final.
The single November 5 game was between Canada East and the Americans. It would close out the round robin. The Americans came out on fire and defeated the East 5-3. This left each team in Pool B with a 1-1-0 record. Because of goal differential, Canada East still won first place and the United States had to settle on third place behind the Germans.