TIMMINS, Ont. – The quest for the three-peat is still alive for Ontario at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Garrett Meurs scored twice and Ryan Strome added a goal and an assist in Ontario’s 5-2 win over West on Saturday night, moving the two-time defending gold medalists into the semifinals, where they will face Russia. Sunday’s game will mark the first time the two teams have met in the medal round since 2000, when Russia beat the Canadian side 2-0 in Timmins for gold.
On Saturday, Meurs broke open a 1-1 tie with goals 5:02 apart in the latter half of the second period, and Ryan Murphy pushed the lead to three before the horn sounded to end the middle frame. Ben Thomson also scored for Ontario (3-1), which won its third straight after opening the tournament with a shocking 5-3 loss to Finland.
Boston Leier and Wilson Dumais scored the goals for West, which saw its semifinal dreams end before the puck even dropped after the early game in Kirkland Lake between Sweden and Quebec went to a shootout, meaning West could catch neither team, even with a win.
The loss drops West to fourth in Group A, and means it will travel to Iroquois Falls and face Atlantic in an all-Canadian battle for seventh place. It is a drop for the westerners, who finished fourth in 2009 after winning bronze one year earlier.
KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – Make it 14 straight preliminary round games without a loss for the United States at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. And while you’re at it, make it four straight semifinal appearances as well.
Rocco Grimaldi’s goal just shy of the nine-minute mark of the third period stood up as the game-winner as the U.S. edged Pacific 2-1 on Saturday night at the Joe Mavrinac Community Complex, ending the Canadian side’s slim semifinal hopes.
Adam Reid had the other goal for the Americans (4-0), who were the only team to run the table in the preliminary round and will look to advance to their third gold medal in four years when they face Sweden in Iroquois Falls on Sunday night. The U.S. won silver in 2006 and 2008 before losing to Pacific in overtime last year in the semifinals.
Pacific actually scored first, off the stick of Zachary Hodder on a power play at 9:33 of the first, but that was the only puck to beat American netminder John Gibson, who made 22 saves in the win. The Canadians faced a daunting task if they hoped to have a chance to get back to the gold medal game – only a four-goal victory would have moved them past the U.S. and into the top two in Group B.
The loss sends Pacific to the fifth-place game, where it will face Quebec on Sunday afternoon in Timmins.
KIRKLAND LAKE, Ont. – There may be 13 years between them, but Sweden is into the semifinals for the second time in a row at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Karl Johansson scored the only goal in the shootout and Stefan Steen stopped all three shooters he faced as the Swedes locked up a final four berth with a wild 4-3 win over Quebec on Saturday afternoon at the Joe Mavrinec Community Complex.
Before this year, Sweden had not taken to the ice at the U17 tournament since 1997, when Daniel and Henrik Sedin led the Scandinavians to a silver medal. Now, they will wait for the result of Saturday night’s Ontario-West game to find out where, when and who they play in Sunday’s semis.
The game looked to be well in hand for the Swedes after 20 minutes, as they took a 3-0 lead to the intermission on goals from Mika Zibanejad, Rasmus Bengtsson and Max Görtz. Sweden was helped in the opening frame by four Quebec penalties.
But in the second it was the Swedes who paraded to the box, giving Quebec four power plays and allowing the Canadian side to tie the game thanks to Yannick Veilleux, Jonathan Huberdeau and Jean-François Leblanc.
A scoreless, and penalty-free, third period gave way to a five-minute overtime, which was also free of any goals. Johansson scored on Sweden’s first shot, while Steen turned away Huberdeau, Olivier Archambault and Raphaël Bussières.
Quebec still has a chance to make the semifinals as well, but will need a West win over Ontario in regulation time to advance.
TIMMINS, Ont. – It looks like Russia may have a little McIntyre Arena magic.
For the first time since Atlanta Thrashers superstar Ilya Kovalchuk led Russia to World Under-17 Hockey Challenge gold in Timmins ten years ago, Russia is back into the tournament semifinals after blanking the Czech Republic 6-0 on Saturday afternoon at The Mac.
The win gives Russia one of the two final four spots in Group B, although it will not know where, when or who it plays until the result of Saturday night’s Pacific-United States game is known. The Russians will likely face the Group A winner in Timmins on Sunday, unless Pacific beats the U.S. by three goals or more, which would send Russia to Iroquois Falls as the Group B winner.
Alexander Khokhlachev was the offensive catalyst for Russia (3-1), racking up a goal and four assists to give him a tournament-leading 10 points. Anton Zlobin had three helpers to push his total to seven, a tournament-high.
Andrey Sigarev scored twice to lead the way in that category for the Russians, while Zlobin, Alexey Shamin and Alexey Vasilevskiy also found the back of the net. Andrey Makarov earned the shutout in goal, making 30 saves.
David Honzik made 27 saves for the Czechs (0-0-1-3), who were the only team to finish preliminary round play without a victory. They will face Finland in Sunday morning’s ninth-place game in Timmins.
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at email@example.com)