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Canada’s junior men’s hockey team face Czechia to open its defence of its world championship gold medal on Boxing Day in Halifax.

Hockey Canada and the International Ice Hockey Federation released the schedule on Tuesday for the tournament, Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Moncton and Halifax.

Canada is in Group A in Halifax with Sweden, Czechia, who the Canadians beat in the 2022 semifinal, Germany and Austria.

Finland, the defending silver medallists, open the tournament on Boxing Day against Switzerland. The Finns are in Group B in Moncton with the United States, Switzerland, Slovakia and Latvia.

The 20 preliminary-round games are split between the two host cities.

Canada won gold last month in Edmonton, after the tournament was postponed due a COVID-19 outbreak at the event this past winter.

Canada and Sweden face off on New Year’s Eve for the first time since the 2016 tournament.

Canada will host its selection camp in Moncton in mid-December.

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