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Buffalo games 'second-most attended' IIHF World Junior Championship


Canadian fans have helped fill HSBC Arena during the 11-day World Junior Hockey Championship. Tickets for tonight's gold medal game are priced as high as $1,500 on the secondary market. (Bill Wippert/The Buffalo News)

4 p.m. BUFFALO -- Buffalo's proximity to the border helped push ticket sales for the 2011 IIFH World Junior Championship far beyond what officials anticipated after Canadian fans flooded many of the games. 

The 11-day event will be the second-most attended World Junior Championship when it wraps up tonight, officials announced during an afternoon news conference.

"By design, we put it in Buffalo because we knew we were within driving distance of 5 million Canadian fans who were crazy about the sport of ice hockey, and that that would make this entire tournament more lively," USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean told reporters during an afternoon news conference at HSBC Arena.

Michael M. Gilbert, spokesman for tournament host Buffalo Sabres, said officials expect to have sold about 330,000 tickets when the games end tonight.

"This will be the second-most attended World Junior Championship ever," Gilbert said.

Ticket sales in Buffalo and Niagara Falls during the 11-day event surpassed last year's tournament in Saskatchewan before the games began Dec. 26. Attendance is expected to fall only behind the 2009 Ottawa games, Gilbert said.

"You will have over 330,000 spectators for this event," said Rene Fasel, president of the International Ice Hockey Federation. "I would say it's a huge number if you compare that to some of our world championships with 62 games that just have around 300,000 spectators."

Tickets for tonight's 7:30 p.m. gold medal game between Canada and Russia at HSBC Arena have been sold out for several days, and prices on one secondary market website were listed anywhere between $180 and $1,500 early this afternoon.

Ticket reseller Stub Hub listed four tickets in the 100-level for $1,500. Most tickets were listed between $180 and $600.

Several thousand tickets remained on sale ahead of this afternoon's bronze medal game between the United States and Sweden before it kicked off at 3:30 p.m.

Listen to Buffalo Sabres Managing Partner Larry Quinn, International Ice Hockey Federation President Rene Fasel and USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean recap the 11-day tournament during a news conference this afternoon: 

--Denise Jewell Gee

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