I've already gone through the schedule of the various IIHF Women's World Championships that are happening now and for the next month, but there are even more IIHF U18 tournaments scheduled during this time period, with seven different tournaments for males and one for females in March and April. It's a lot to keep track of, admittedly, and this may come as a surprise to fans of the U20 level, but more nations participate in the U18s than the U20s.
While sometimes there can be conflict between European playoffs and the U18 tournaments that keep players back, for the most part their seasons are concluded in time to participate, but that is not the case in North America. Only players on teams who have been eliminated early from the post-season participate from all of the major North American junior leagues: the CHL, USHL, CJHL and NAHL. Participating in the U18 tournament is one benefit of American players participating in the US National Team Development Program (USNTDP), and has directly led to the United States' dominance at this level. For Canadian players, it is often a last opportunity to make an on ice impression to scouts of NHL teams, as this is the tournament to feature draft eligible players (unlike the U20s, which are often made up of players already drafted by NHL teams).
Another note about the U18s: they're really the U19s. Players eligible for this year's tournament include birth years of 1993 or later, which means there will be 18 year olds playing in these tournaments.
Here's the schedule:
For a reference on how countries have measured up at this event, you can take a look at my Junior Hockey Program Ranking from last year.
As you can tell, the Division 3B tournament took place last week while the Division 2A tournament in Romania is ongoing. Iceland won the Division 3B tournament, knocking out the hosts Mexico in a shootout. Mexico hosted both the Division 3 U20s and U18s this year, and seem to be making a concerted effort to building their national program around their youth programs, particularly those around Mexico City. Again, the games were televised and put online, or at least parts of them were.
The U18s have a higher participation rate than the U20s, with 44 nations taking part compared to 41 in the U20s, and I'd have to think that it is easier to assemble the best U18 talent for a lot of smaller nations than the best U20 due to them still being of high school age. The media attention just isn't there even at the top level, either: 4 or 5 NHL playoff games a night takes precedence in Canada and the USA and most 17 and 18 year old players have yet to enter the national consciousness beyond the top one or two draft eligible players.
But it's good hockey if you can get out there to see it. If you can make a trip to Saxony in mid-April, I highly recommend attending: Tickets are dirt cheap right now, you could buy tickets for the entire playoff round for just 45 Euros, and day passes are incredibly cheap as well.
Division 3B Final Standings: 1. Iceland (3-1-0-0), 2. Mexico (3-0-1-0), 3. South Africa (2-0-0-2), 4. Israel (1-0-0-3), 5. Ireland (0-0-0-4).
Division 2A Results to date: Serbia 4, New Zealand 1; Austria 5, Croatia 1; Romania 8, Estonia 1; Austria 12, Serbia 0; Estonia 14, New Zealand 0; Romania 3, Croatia 2 (SO).