SOCHI, Russia – Jesse Blacker (Toronto, Ont./Kunlun Red Star, KHL) scored 1:36 into overtime, sending Canada’s National Men’s Team to a 1-0 win over HC Sochi on Sunday in its curtain-raiser at the 2017 Sochi Hockey Open.
Off a won face-off in the offensive zone the puck made its way from Justin Azevedo (West Lorne, Ont./Ak Bars Kazan, KHL) to Blacker, whose shot hit a Sochi stick and beat goaltender Konstantin Barulin under the crossbar for the game-winner.
Justin Peters (Blythe, Ont./Dinamo Riga, KHL) earned the 23-save shutout in the Canadian goal, backstopping the penalty-kill unit to a perfect seven-for-seven performance.
The teams traded chances in the first period, with the best Canadian opportunity coming off the stick of Bud Holloway (Wapella, Sask./Skellefteå AIK, SHL); he corralled a puck off the end-boards, but fired his shot into the side of the net.
Canada was unlucky not to open the scoring early in the second. Mason Raymond (Cochrane, Alta./SC Bern, NLA) hit a pair of posts and Brandon Kozun (Calgary, Alta./Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, KHL) was denied by the glove of Barulin on a penalty shot, all within the first five minutes of the middle frame.
Eric O’Dell (Ottawa, Ont./HC Sochi, KHL) added a third Canadian post later in the period, and the game went to the second intermission scoreless.
It was more of the same in the third period with the Canadians killing off two more Sochi power plays, although the tournament hosts never seemed to really test Peters.
Canada controlled the puck for almost all of overtime, leading up to the Blacker winner.
A spot in the championship game will be on the line Monday when Canada takes on Russia in its second and final preliminary round game (12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT).
“It was a good draw by [Azevedo]; he made a great pass to me through the middle and good net-front by [Wojtek] Wolski, and ended up, the shot went in. It was a great pass and a great play by them, so it was all three of us there.”
Jesse Blacker describes the play that made his game-winning goal possible
“[It’s a] great city. I’ve been to Russia once before, but I’ve been certainly impressed coming in. It’s exceptional. This time of year, the ice [can be] a bit soft because of the weather, but it’s a great city and certainly a great facility.”
Head coach Willie Desjardins on his impressions of Sochi
“We played a really solid game from start to finish. We had a lot of opportunities to score – their goalie played really well – and they turned it on a bit in the third period and we were able to hold the fort. Coach (Desjardins) talked before, the bottom-line was getting the win, and thankfully we were able to do that.”
Goaltender Justin Peters recaps the game against HC Sochi