by Jason LaRose
January 3, 2014, CAPE BRETON, N.S. (ISN) – After posting semifinal wins Friday, Pacific and the United States will meet in the gold medal game at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge on Saturday night. The puck will drop at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S. at 5 p.m. AT/1 p.m. PT; the game can be seen live on TSN.
Pacific beat Russia 7-3 in semifinal action in North Sydney, N.S., while the U.S. knocked off Quebec 9-1 in Sydney.
Pacific is trying to win its first-ever under-17 gold medal after five consecutive losses in the gold medal game, in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2009. The Americans, meanwhile, have won three gold medals – in 2001 and 2002, beating Pacific in the final both years, as well as 2010. The U.S. has also finished with the silver medal on five occasions, in 1998, 2006, 2008, 2011 and 2012.
In North Sydney, Matteo Gennaro (St. Albert, Alta./Prince Albert, WHL) scored twice and added an assist to lead the offence for Pacific, which scored six unanswered goals from the middle of the first period to late in the third. Nick Merkley (Calgary, Alta./Kelowna, WHL), Noah Juulsen (Abbotsford, B.C./Everett, WHL), Ty Ronning (Burnaby, B.C./Vancouver, WHL), Jansen Harkins (North Vancouver, B.C./Prince George, WHL) and Giorgio Estephan (Edmonton, Alta./Lethbridge, WHL) had the other goals. Eight Pacific players recorded multiple points.
In Sydney, Colin White had four more points, giving him 16 in five games, Nicholas Boka and Matthew Tkachuk scored two goals apiece, and 14 Americans had at least a point as the U.S. advanced to the gold medal game for the sixth time in the last eight U17 tournaments, dating back to 2006. The Americans are the lone undefeated team remaining, having outscored its opposition 43-6 in five games.
Quebec and Russia will meet Saturday afternoon (noon AT/8 a.m. PT) in the bronze medal game, which will be available via webcast through FASTHockey off the game summary page at www.hockeycanada.ca/wu17.
In other action Friday:
Fifth-place game at North Sydney – Ontario 6, Sweden 3
Ninth-place game at Port Hawkesbury, N.S. – West 4, Germany 3
The seventh-place game between Atlantic and the Czech Republic, scheduled for Friday night in Port Hawkesbury, was postponed due to winter weather affecting Cape Breton. The game will be played at 2 p.m. AT/10 a.m. PT on Saturday in Port Hawkesbury.
The event brings together the top players in the world born in 1997 or later. The under-17 program is the first step in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence. Many players who compete at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge go on to represent Canada with the National Men’s Under-18 Team, National Junior Team and National Men’s Team.
Nineteen of the 21 players who were selected for Canada’s National Junior Team and are currently playing in the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmö, Sweden, played at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Since the first under-17 tournament (then known as the Quebec Esso Cup) in 1986, more than 1,200 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including 10 of the last 13 first-overall selections (Ilya Kovalchuk, 2001; Rick Nash, 2002; Marc-André Fleury, 2003; Alexander Ovechkin, 2004; Erik Johnson, 2006; Patrick Kane, 2007; John Tavares, 2009; Taylor Hall, 2010; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 2011; Nathan MacKinnon, 2013).