PARKSVILLE, BC – With first place on the line, the United States came to play.
Seven different players scored goals and Chase Balisy and Brandon Saad had a goal and two assists apiece as the U.S. wrapped up top spot in Group B with a 7-0 win over previously-unbeaten West on Friday night at Oceanside Place.
Nick Shore, Luke Moffatt, Michael Mersch, Stephen Johns and Matthew Nieto also scored for the Americans, who finished with an unblemished 4-0 preliminary round record, outscoring their opponents 29-5.
West suffered its first loss, finishing the prelims at 3-1. Derek Tendler saw his first action of the tournament between the pipes for the Canadian side, turning aside 36 shots in a losing cause.
Both teams will play in semifinals on Saturday – West will face Ontario in an all-Canadian final four match-up (3 p.m. PST), while the United States will take on Pacific (7 p.m. PST). Both games will go at the Alberni Valley Multiplex.
ONTARIO 6 – PACIFIC 3
PORT ALBERNI, BC – The winning streak continues for Ontario at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Tyler Seguin had three assists and six different players scored goals as Ontario wrapped up first place in Group A with a hard-fought 6-3 win over Pacific on Friday night at the Alberni Valley Multiplex in the final game of the preliminary round.
Christian Thomas, Stephen Silas, John McFarland, Gregg Sutch, Ryan Spooner and Tyler Toffoli got their names on the scoresheet as the Ontarians won their 13th game in a row at the U17 tournament, dating back to 2006.
Jordan Weal, Brett Connolly and Kevin Sundher had the goals for Pacific, which never got to within two goals after falling behind 2-0 in the game’s first 10 minutes. Brendan Ranford added two assists in a losing cause.
Both teams will hit the ice at the Alberni Valley Multiplex on Saturday for semifinal contests. Ontario will face West in the early contest (3 p.m. PST), while Pacific will face the United States in the prime-time final four match-up (7 p.m. PST).
RUSSIA 4 – GERMANY 5
COURTENAY, BC – For the first time since 2001, Germany will play for something other than ninth place at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Tom Kühnhackl’s second goal of the game with 6:05 to go stood up as the winner as the Germans advanced to Saturday’s fifth-place game at the Alberni Valley Multiplex with a 5-4 victory over Russia.
Konrad Abeltshauser, Yasin Ehliz and Bernhard Keil also scored for Germany, who recorded just its second win in 16 preliminary round games dating back to the 2002 U17 tournament in Selkirk, MB. Ehliz and Abeltshauser had two assists each to give them both three-point nights.
Evgeny Kuznetsov scored twice to lead the Russian offensive attack. Aleksander Gogolev and Evgeny Grigorenko also picked up goals in a losing cause, while Ivan Telegin and Ivan Gavrilenko recorded a pair of assists apiece.
With the Slovakia-Finland game in Port Alberni also finished, the Saturday match-ups are set: Germany will face Quebec at the Alberni Valley Multiplex for fifth place (11 a.m. PST), while the Russians will take on Slovakia for seventh spot. Check the event schedule for all game times for Saturday.
FINLAND 4 – SLOVAKIA 7
PORT ALBERNI, BC – It took four games, but Slovakia is on the board at the 2009 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Tomas Jurco scored twice as the Slovaks recorded their first win of this year’s U17 tournament, defeating Finland 7-4 in the final preliminary round game for both. The victory means Slovakia will play in the seventh-place game for the first time since 2005.
Michal Murcek, David Bondra, Dominik Simcak, Matej Bene and Lukas Cingel also scored for the Slovakians, who recorded just their second win in their last 12 preliminary round games. Bene added three assists in the win, while Bondra, Cingel and Jurco had two helpers apiece.
Finland, who finished winless in the prelims for the first time since 2002, got two goals from Pyry Niemi and one apiece from Markus Nikander and Riku Vakiparta in the loss. The Finns will play for ninth place on Saturday.
Both teams will travel to Frank Crane Arena in Nanaimo for the final games of their tournament. Slovakia will face Russia for seventh place, while the Finns will meet Atlantic in the ninth-place game. Check the event schedule for Saturday’s game times.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)