WINNIPEG, Man. – The United States has punched its ticket to the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge gold medal game, again.
Nicolas Kerdiles scored 7:24 into overtime to give the U.S. a dramatic 6-5 overtime victory over Pacific Monday afternoon at the MTS Centre, sending the Americans to Tuesday’s final (7:30 p.m. CT), where they’ll look to defend the gold medal they won last year in Timmins, Ont.
The U.S. won despite blowing a 5-1 late second period lead, eerily reminiscent of last year’s semifinal against Sweden. In that one, the Americans opened up a 4-0 lead but needed extra time to score a 6-5 win.
With plenty of scoring and late-game heroics, Monday’s game will go down as one of the most exciting of the tournament.
Pacific hit the scoreboard first just 1:13 in, as Brandon Magee slipped a shot through the legs of American goaltender Jared Rutledge, but the U.S. owned the rest of the frame, scoring four times in just over 12 minutes to take a three-goal lead to the dressing room.
Devon Fordyce replaced Mackenzie Skapski in the Pacific goal to start the second period and promptly allowed Matt Grzelcyk’s harmless looking wrist shot to sneak under his arm, putting the U.S. in a seemingly-commanding 5-1 lead.
But Pacific started to claw back late in the period, getting goals from Hunter Shinkaruk and Troy Bourke just over a minute apart to turn a four-goal deficit into a two-goal disadvantage after 40 minutes.
The third period was the Morgan Rielly show, as the Pacific defenceman put the team on his shoulders, scoring twice in 1:29 to complete a remarkable comeback and tie the game at 5-5. The Pacific pressure continued late in the third, but the Canadians were unable to get the winner, sending the game to a 10-minute, 4 on-4 overtime where Kerdiles was the hero, taking a pass from Jacob Trouba and snapping it past Fordyce.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)