2016 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup

Calgary, AB – Team British Columbia is off to the 2016 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup final after a nail-biting 2-1 semifinal victory over Team Saskatchewan on Saturday afternoon at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary, AB.

Team BC and Team Alberta will face off for the 2016 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup championship on Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m., while Team Saskatchewan will contest Team Manitoba in the bronze medal game at 9 a.m. at the Markin MacPhail Centre.

You just had a feeling Joshua Williams was going to find the back of the net eventually.

Dangerous throughout the tournament and with Team BC battling to fend off a pressing Team Saskatchewan, the first round pick of the Medicine Hat Tigers capitalized on a bouncing puck with 2:39 remaining in regulation, propelling his squad to a 2-1 win and an appearance in the gold medal game against Team Alberta at the 2016 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup in Calgary.

“It was a face-off win that led to a point shot,” Williams said, retracing the game-deciding play Saturday afternoon. “[The puck] went behind the net and Ethan Leyh made a great pass out in front. I was able to tap it in.

“We came out in the third period after the first two periods were slow and we moved our feet. We were able to get the win.”

The goal registered as Williams’ fifth of the tournament and broke a 1-1 stalemate that had been standing since midway through the second period when Harrison Blaisdell sent a power-play one-timer to the back of the net behind Roman Basran to draw Saskatchewan even.

After Alex Swetlikoff gave Team BC a 1-0 lead with a power-play effort midway through the first period, Saskatchewan turned the tide.

In addition to Blaisdell’s tally, Saskatchewan outshot BC by a 7-3 margin in the second period and by a 20-13 span over 40 minutes of play. Press as they did, the green and gold couldn’t solve Basran, a third round pick of the Kelowna Rockets.

“We had a good effort,” said Logan Barlage, captain of Team Saskatchewan, Saturday afternoon. “The boys were trying hard.

“It sucks. We wanted that chance at gold. Sometimes that happens, it’s just how hockey works. We’ve got to take from it, learn from it and do our best tomorrow.”

In the third period, the 6-foot-1 Basran, a product of Delta, came up huge, particularly in the late stages. The spotlight shone brightly as the BC netminder unleashed a flashy windmill glove save to reject a glorious Saskatchewan opportunity. Prior to that, Basran made a backdoor stop in the second period, robbing Barlage with a glove save that left fans and the Saskatchewan captain in disbelief.

The nail-biting victory for Team BC sets up a rematch with Team Alberta in the gold medal game slated for 1 p.m. on Sunday afternoon at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary.

Alberta advanced straight to the championship contest by knocking off Team BC 3-2 Friday night.

“We’re excited,” Williams said of getting a shot at redemption against Alberta. “They beat us the first time so we’re going to get back at them tomorrow.”

As for Saskatchewan, they head to the bronze medal game on Sunday morning (9 a.m.) and will face Team Manitoba.

Team British Columbia’s Joshua Williams (Medicine Hat Tigers) played the role of hero once again, scoring with 2:39 remaining in regulation to give his team a 2-1 lead. Goaltender Roman Basran (Kelowna Rockets) locked down his cage, making 27 saves in regulation as BC held on in the dying moments to advance to the 2016 Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup championship.
BC opened the scoring as Alex Swetlikoff (Seattle Thunderbirds) beat Team Saskatchewan goaltender Nolan Maier (Saskatoon Blades) 8:13 into the first period.
Team Saskatchewan’s Harrison Blaisdell (Vancouver Giants) tied the game with a power-play effort 12:12 into the second period.
Saturday’s outcome sets up a rematch with Team Alberta in the tournament championship after Alberta earned a 3-2 win over BC to close out the round robin Friday night.
Team Saskatchewan will face Team Manitoba for the bronze medal.

Leading Scorers

  1. Joshua Williams (BC) – 5g-3a-8pts
  2. Massimo Rizzo (BC) – 2g-5a-7pts
  3. Logan Barlage (SK) – 3g-3a-6pts
  4. Ethan Leyh (BC) – 2g-4a-6pts
  5. Mitchell Brown (BC) – 2g-3a-5pts

Round Robin Standings – FINAL

  1. Team Alberta (3-0-0, +7)
  2. Team British Columbia (2-1-0, +4)
  3. Team Saskatchewan (1-2-0, -2)
  4. Team Manitoba (0-3-0, -9)

Event Schedule – Sunday, October 23rd  
Markin MacPhail Centre – WinSport / Calgary, Alberta
*All times local

9:00 a.m. – Team Manitoba vs. Team Saskatchewan – Bronze Medal Game

1:00 p.m. – Team British Columbia vs. Team Alberta – Challenge Cup Championship