A sweep by all three Canadian teams on the final day of preliminary round play means one Canadian team will play for the gold medal while another plays for bronze. But none of this would have been possible without a victory by the team which saw its tournament end on Friday outside of the top four at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The seven-team, 10-day tournament co-hosted by Langley Events Centre and Delta’s Sungod Centre, concludes on Saturday (November 12) with Canada Black facing Finland for the bronze medal at 12:00pm while Canada Red squares off against the undefeated US team at 5:00pm for the gold medal. Both games will be played at Langley Events Centre.
Team GP W OTW L OTL PTS
United States 6 6 0 0 0 18
Canada Red 6 3 1 2 0 11
Canada Black 6 3 0 2 1 10
Finland 6 3 0 3 0 9
Sweden 6 2 1 3 0 8
Canada White 6 1 1 3 1 6
Czechia 6 0 0 5 1 1
Canada Black 7 Czechia 5
Needing a victory to book their spot in the medal round, Canada Black out-lasted Czechia 7-5. Justin Poirier had staked Canada Black to the only goal of the first period before the floodgates opened. Canada Black took a 4-2 lead through 40 minutes. Three times in the third period, Czechia pulled within a goal, but each time, Canada Black had an answer, securing the 7-5 victory and a spot in Saturday’s bronze medal game.
“It is 16-year-old kids, that is the way it is going to be, it is up and down hockey, but I think we have gotten better every day here certainly deserve to play for a medal,” said Canada Black coach Mark O’Leary. Justin Poirier led Canada Black with two goals and three points while Lucas Karmiris and Thomas Desruisseaux each had a goal and a helper. Clarke Caswell and Cole Beaudoin had the other tallies. For Czechia, Adam Titlbach scored once and set up three others while Adam Benak (two goals, one assist), Lukas Kral (one goal, one assist) and Samuel Drancak also had multi-point games (one goal, one assist).
Canada Black would go 2-for-6 on the power play while Czechia was 1-for-2.
Canada White 8 Finland 2
Knowing their tournament was over at the conclusion of the final preliminary round game, it would have been easy for Canada White to mail in their effort. After the team came out and played their best game of the tournament, defeating Finland 8-2 to not only knock the Finnish team from qualifying for the gold-medal game, but also allowing Canada Red to
leapfrog into second place by virtue of their victory over Sweden.
“It would have been easy knowing that we had no chance of being in the medal (round), it would have been easy to fold the tent, but the guys came out strong today to help out the other Canadian team but also to make sure we finish on a positive note,” said Canada White coach Bruce Richardson. “They didn’t shut it down and they showed a lot of character.”
The biggest difference in the game was special teams as Canada White converted five of their nine opportunities while Finland failed on all eight of their man-advantage chances.
Roger McQueen and Jack Van Volsen scored goals 26 seconds apart and Ryder Ritchie made it 3-0 in the final minute for a 3-0 lead through 20 minutes.
Spencer Gill (Canada White) and Roope Vesterinen (Finland) traded goals to open the second before Gavin Hodnett, Ritchie and McQueen stretched the lead to 7-1. Each team scored once in the final frame: Finland’s Joona Saarelainen and Canada White’s Éliot L’Italien completed the scoring.
David Egorov earned the win between the pipes for Canada White with 33 saves on 35 shots. McQueen and Saarelainen were the respective Players of the Game.
Canada Red 6 Sweden 3
A 35-save performance from goaltender Gabriel D’Aigle backstopped Canada Red to a crucial 6-3 victory over Sweden and a spot in the gold-medal game.
Sweden came out and dominated early, forcing D’Aigle to make 16 saves in the first period early as the teams exited the first period tied at two goals apiece.
“D’Aigle is one of the top goalies in the country, and he definitely proved that in the first and let our boys get their feet under them (and then) I thought we played a real good second and third,” said Canada Red coach Greg Walters.
Canada Red came out of the intermission with goals from Nathan Villeneuve and Ethan Procyszyn 90 seconds apart to build a 4-2 lead, and while Mans Toresson did get Sweden back within one a few minutes later, Canada Red shut the door the rest of the way with Porter Martone adding a pair of third- period tallies.
Tij Iginla and Ben Cormier had Canada Red’s first two goals while Viggo Nordlund and Anton Olsson responded for Sweden. Iginla also had a pair of assists for the three-point game. Villeneuve and Sweden’s Hugo Laring were their team’s respective Player of the Game award winners.