PORT ALBERNI, BC – After Saturday night, if Alex Petrovic ever returns to Port Alberni, chances are he can eat for free anywhere he wants.
Petrovic’s second goal of the game came 5:35 into overtime as Pacific advanced to the gold medal game at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge after a thrilling 6-5 win over the United States at the Alberni Valley Multiplex.
The goal sends Pacific to its first gold medal game since 2005, when it lost the last of four consecutive gold medal games. Ryan Harrison, Brendan Ranford, Brett Connolly and Max Reinhart also scored for the Canadian side, which erased a 5-3 American lead. Jordan Weal had three assists in the win, while Troy Rutkowski pitched in with four helpers.
Jason Zucker, with a pair, Austin Czarnik, Michael Mersch and Matthew Nieto scored in a span 10:26 in the second period for the U.S. to turn a 3-0 deficit into a 5-3 lead. The Americans will play for the bronze medal on Sunday after appearing in the last two gold medal games.
ONTARIO 7 – WEST 4
PORT ALBERNI, BC – Could there be a repeat champion at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge? Ontario is one win away from defending its 2008 gold medal after a 7-4 semifinal win over West on Saturday afternoon.
Tyler Toffoli and Erik Gudbranson each scored twice and added an assist to pace the offensive attack as Ontario won its 14th consecutive game at the U17 tournament. John McFarland added two goals, giving him a tournament-leading 11 points in five games. Christian Thomas also scored for the Ontarians, while Tyler Seguin had four assists.
Leading 3-2 after 20 minutes, the defending champs rattled off three unanswered goals in the middle frame to take a 6-2 advantage to the dressing room after two periods. A pair of third-period goals from West made it close, but Gudbranson’s power play marker with six minutes to go sealed the deal.
Michael St. Croix scored two goals to lead the way for West, who will play for bronze for the second year in a row – it took home third from London, ON last year. Brooks Macek and Quinton Howden also found the back of the net in a losing cause.
GERMANY 1 – QUEBEC 3
PORT ALBERNI, BC – It is two steps up the ladder for Quebec at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
One year after coming out victorious in the seventh-place game in London, ON, the Canadian side earned a fifth-place finish on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Germany at the Alberni Valley Multiplex.
Pierre-Karl Marion got the game-winning goal late in the second period, snapping a shot through the legs of German netminder Mathias Niederberger on a two-on-one. Michael Beaudry and Matthew Bissonnette also scored for Quebec, while Guillaume Asselin picked up an assist to temporarily tie for the tournament scoring lead with nine points.
Marcel Noebels scored the lone goal for the Germans, who had their best result at the U17 tournament since an eighth-place finish in 2001. Niederberger was a worthy recipient of Germany’s player of the game award after a 37-save performance.
RUSSIA 6 – SLOVAKIA 3
NANAIMO, BC – Three goals in the game’s opening seven minutes proved to be more than Slovakia could handle as Russia grabbed seventh place with a 6-3 win on Saturday afternoon at Frank Crane Arena.
Artem Gareev (1:28), Vladislav Namestnikov (3:52) and Roman Berdnikov (6:55) scored early for the Russians, who outshot Slovakia 16-7 in the first period and 33-27 overall.
Namestnikov and Evgeny Kuznetsov finished with a pair of goals apiece for the Russians, who finished fifth last year in London, ON. Gareev, Sergey Barbashev and Aleksander Gogolev had two assists apiece in the win.
Dominik Simcak, Lukas Cingel and Tomas Jurco scored the goals for Slovakia, who got to within a goal at 4-3 after two periods before Kuznetsov scored twice in the third period to put the game away. Despite the loss, the Slovakians improved on their 10th-place finish from one year ago.
FINLAND 6 – ATLANTIC 9
NANAIMO, BC – It may not have been the game they wanted to be playing in, but Atlantic made sure it finished its 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in style.
Sean Couturier scored a hat trick and added two assists and Ben Duffy had a goal and three helpers as Atlantic took home ninth place with a 9-6 win over Finland in a goal-fest at Frank Crane Arena. The win spared Atlantic what would have been its first last-place finish since 2001.
Brandon Hynes, Patrick Downe, Garrett Clarke, Brandon Gormley and Morgan Ellis also scored for the Canadian side, which scored its most goals in one game since a 7-2 win over the Czech Republic at the 2005 tournament in Lethbridge, AB.
The Finns got goals from Joonas Donskoi, Markus Vastila, Mikael Salmivirta, Valtteri Autio, Tomi Iso-Mustajarvi and Teemu Pulkkinen in their biggest offensive outburst of the tournament, but still finished 0-5 for the first time since 2002.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)