Four different Manitoba players scored Sunday at the Markin MacPhail Centre in Calgary, Alta. as they won their second straight bronze medal at the WHL Cup with a 4-2 victory over Saskatchewan.
Ty Thorpe (Victoria Royals) had a goal and an assist while Cory King (Moose Jaw Warriors) tallied the game-winning goal in Manitoba’s final game of the tournament.
“It was amazing,” King said of the experience. “It was really fun this week; I’m going to miss these guys for sure.”
Manitoba was on their opponents’ back from the opening whistle. Seth Jarvis (Portland Winterhawks) got his team’s first real good chance, sending a shot just wide of Saskatchewan goaltender Bryan Thomson (Lethbridge Hurricanes) in the opening minutes.
Thomson couldn’t deny Manitoba forever though. Less than a minute into the first power play of the game, Thorpe took a one-time pass from Nolan Ritchie (Brandon Wheat Kings). The shot was headed wide of the net until Jakob Brook (Prince Albert Raiders) got his stick on the puck, creating the perfect deflection for the opening goal.
Saskatchewan would fight back late in the period though, evening up the game on a goal by Stanley Cooley (Prince George Cougars). Cooley originally passed the puck up to teammate Cohner Saleski (Prince Albert Raiders), but after Saleski’s shot rebounded off the stick of a Manitoban blue liner, it came right to Cooley, who snuck it under Dante Giannuzzi (Portland Winterhawks) to get his province on the board.
Despite the early goal against, Giannuzzi hung in tough and was satisfied with how his team ended their tournament.
“It was just really exciting throughout the entire experience to try to do well for our province,” the Winterhawks prospect said. “Leaving with a bronze medal is a pretty good way to do it.
“It was awesome to play with new team and become brothers with these guys so quickly. It was just a fantastic experience to go out and battle with them as well.
Manitoba would shake off the goal and come back strong in the second period. Jarvis opened the scoring 69 second into the period on a beautiful individual rush, coming up the side before cutting around a Saskatchewan defender with the speed that’s made him a top player at the tournament and beating Thomson to put Manitoba ahead once again.
Seven minutes later, Manitoba doubled their lead. Noah Wagner (Brandon Wheat Kings) took an outlet pass off the boards and broke past his defender with a toe-drag, but was hauled down at the same time, making the initial stop easy for Thomson. Unfortunately for Saskatchewan, King was right on the doorstep to pounce on the rebound that would stand up as the game-winning goal.
Jackson Berezowski (Everett Silvertips) would ass a late power play goal for Saskatchewan on a shot through traffic to bring his team within a goal after 40 minutes, but it wasn’t enough on this day.
Giannuzzi turned aside all seven Saskatchewan shots in the third while Thorpe scored from long range into the empty net to round out the scoring. The Winnipeg product finished with 21 saves in the contest compared to 17 for Thomson, who shared his thoughts on what he felt his team was missing out on Sunday.
“I think we needed a little more bodies to the net, get the perimeter shots down a bit, just crash the net more,” the Lethbridge Hurricanes prospect said. “My team was playing really well in front of me so I just had to give the favour back to them.
“They cut down a lot of shots.”
The medal was Manitoba’s sixth in the history of the tournament while Saskatchewan’s record in bronze medal games dropped to 2-5 overall.
2017 WHL Cup All-Stars
G – Bryan Thomson (Team Saskatchewan) – Moose Jaw, Sask – Lethbridge Hurricanes
D – Kaiden Guhle (Team Alberta) – Sherwood Park, Alta. – Prince Albert Raiders
D – Daemon Hunt (Team Manitoba) – Brandon, Man. – Moose Jaw Warriors
F – Justin Sourdif (Team British Columbia) – Surrey, B.C. – Vancouver Giants
F – Kyle Crnkovic (Team Alberta) – Chestermere, Alta. – Saskatoon Blades
F – Connor McClennon (Team Alberta) – Wainwright, Alta. – Kootenay ICE
1. Kyle Crnkovic (AB; Saskatoon Blades) – 3G-9A – 12pts
2. Connor McClennon (AB; Kootenay ICE) – 6G-4A – 10pts
3. Kaiden Guhle (AB; Prince Albert Raiders) – 5G-4A – 9pts
4. Jake Neighbours (AB; Edmonton Oil Kings) – 1G-6A – 7pts
5. Tyler Horstmann (BC; Edmonton Oil Kings) – 0G-5A – 5pts