Canadian junior prospects survive scare in win over U Sports all-stars

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am Steel of Sherwood Park, Alta., tallied twice as the Canadian national junior prospects defeated the U Sports All-Stars 5-3 at the Centre d’Excellence Sports Rousseau, Monday.

The juniors, which led 2-0 after one, jumped into a 4-0 lead before the second period was five minutes old but watched in horror as the university all-stars mounted a spirited comeback with three goals in two minutes and 39 seconds, narrowing the gap to 4-3 after two.

Steel, a first-round draft-pick of the Anaheim Ducks, gave the prospects a 3-0 lead early in the second period and completed the scoring with a power-play marker at 11:31 of the final stanza to fizzle out the U Sports comeback attempt.

Arizona draftee Dylan Strome of Mississauga, Ont., and Tampa pick Taylor Raddysh of Caledon, Ont., put the prospects up 2-0 on goals at 5:49 (power-play) and 13:48, respectively.

But U Sports, formerly known as CIS, turned what threatened to be a blow-out into a hard-fought battle.

UNB’s Philippe Maillet of Terrebonne, Que., reduced the deficit to 4-1 at 13:23 of the second, then set up Carleton forward Brett Welychka of London, Ont., on a power-play just 58 seconds later. And 31 seconds after that, the collegians struck again when McGill rearguard Nathan Chiarlitti of Maple, Ont., connected.

“We had a tough time in the first period turning pucks over and it continued on for the first 10 minutes of the second,” said U Sports head coach Brett Gibson, who serves as bench boss at Queen’s. “But once we started taking care of the puck, we started to create a lot of opportunities. We had four 2-on-1 chances in that period, plus a breakaway. If we score on some of those, it might’ve been a different game. We showed a lot of character to come back against that team which has a bunch of first-round picks.”

The prospects camp roster has 31 players that have been drafted by NHL teams, including 14 first-rounders. The U Sports lineup featured 22 of 23 players with a background in major junior hockey but only two of them drafted – Acadia’s Geoff Schemitsch (Tampa Bay, 2010) and Saskatchewan’s Kendall McFaull (Atlanta, 2010).

The juniors, which had a 29-23 edge in shots, went 2-for-5 on the power-play, while the students went 1-for-4.

Philadelphia Flyers pick Carter Hart collected the win between the pipes. He saved all 10 shots faced before giving way to Michael McNiven midway through the second. McNiven kicked aside 10 of 13 shots.

As is usually the case, Hockey Canada puts one of their goaltenders in the U Sports net and Connor Ingram drew the short straw. A third-round selection by Tampa, he turned aside 24 of 29 shots in a losing cause.

“The first 10 minutes we kind of just dipped our toes in and weren’t really sure what to expect,” said Calgary’s Elgin Pearce, a two-time winner of the national R.W. Pugh Award as most sportsmanlike player, who had two assists in the contest but was also called for three minor penalties.

“But once we got our legs under us, we knew we could skate with them and we started to turn the game around.”

The teams will meet again on Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m.

GAME NOTES: The juniors lead the all-time series with 12 victories in 17 confrontations against various university configurations since 2003. Hockey Canada uses these preliminary games as preparation before their final cuts prior to the IIHF World Junior Championship.

 

Quotes:

 

Dominique Ducharme, head coach, Canada’s National Junior Team:

“We learned many things. As a whole, as a team, this is our starting point. Yes, right now, we want to be picking players, we want to be evaluating guys. But at the same time, we want to be building our game. Individually, we did a lot of good things. The first half of the game, we moved the puck well, we created a lot of offence. At one point we almost got carried away a bit, got reckless, so it gave [U Sports] life, but we reacted the right way.”

 

Sam Steel, who scored two goals in the game:

“I thought it was a good start. The team played well, and my linemates had some good chemistry, so it’s a good start. There’s always a little bit of nerves coming into the first period of a tryout like this, so once you get the first [goal] out of the way, and get your feet under you, things start feeling a lot better.”

SCORING SUMMARY

U Sports All-Stars 3 at Canada Jrs 5
(Monday, December 12, 2016 – Centre d’Excellence Sports Rousseau @ Boisbriand, Que.)
GOALS BY PERIOD
U Sports All-Stars 0-3-0 — 3
Canada Jrs 2-2-1 — 5

1st Period-
1, Canada Jrs, Dylan Strome 1 (Chabot), 5:49 (PP).
2, Canada Jrs, Taylor Raddysh 1 (Myers, Dube), 13:48.

Penalties-Pearce U Sports (holding), 5:11; Wagner Can (hooking), 7:01.

2nd Period-
3, Canada Jrs, Sam Steel 1 (unassisted),  3:06.
4, Canada Jrs, Mitchell Stephens 1 (Senyshyn, Chabot), 4:09.
5, U Sports All-Stars, Philippe Maillet 1 (Pearce), 13:23.
6, U Sports All-Stars, Brett Welychka 2 (Murray, Maillet), 15:31 (PP).
7, U Sports All-Stars, Nathan Chiarlitti 1 (Pearce, Crooks), 16:02.

Penalties-Pearce U Sports (boarding), 4:48; Pearce U Sports (high sticking), 11:16; Merkley Can (slashing), 13:30.

3rd Period-
8, Canada Jrs, Sam Steel 2 (Barzal, Myers), 11:31 (PP).

Penalties-McNamee U Sports (tripping), 5:48; Sheppard U Sports (goaltender interference), 10:10; Clague Can (interference), 10:10; Barzal Can (hooking), 11:41; Stephens Can (hooking), 15:54.

Shots on Goal-
U Sports All-Stars 7-10-6 — 23.
Canada Jrs 11-13-5 — 29.

Power Play Opportunities-
U Sports All-Stars 1 / 5;
Canada Jrs 2 / 5.
Goalies-
U Sports All-Stars,
Connor Ingram (L, 0-1-0, 29 shots-24 saves; 58:53).

Canada Jrs,
Carter Hart (Start, W, 1-0-0, 10 shots-10 saves; 30:39);
Michael McNiven (ND, 13 shots-10 saves; 29:21).

Attendance: 1012
Start: 7:02 PM
End: 9:09 PM
Length: 2:07

Referees-Jonathan Alarie, Alexandre Garon.
Linesmen-Maxime Chaput, Christopher Provost.

THREE STARS:
1. CAN – 11 Sam Steel
2. USPRT – 16 Philippe Maillet
3. USPRT – 7 Elgin Pearce

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