Thursday, January 3, 2013


Press Release

VICTORIAVILLE, Que. – Conner Bleackley (High River, Alta./Red Deer, WHL) scored the game-winning goal with 1:31 to go as Pacific took fifth place at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a back-and-forth 7-6 win over Ontario on Thursday afternoon.

It’s the second consecutive year Pacific has finished fifth, and third time in the last four World Under-17 Hockey Challenges, while Ontario’s sixth-place result is its worst since finishing in the same position in 1988.

The teams traded six goals in the first period, with Pacific cancelling out a trio of one-goal leads for Ontario, before Pacific took three leads of its own, only to see Ontario come back and tie the game on Watson’s goal early in the third period, setting up Bleackley’s winner.

Tanner MacMaster (Calgary, Alta./Camrose, AJHL) scored twice to lead the offence for Pacific, while Ryan Graham (Calgary, Alta./Saskatoon, WHL), Ryan Gropp (Kamloops, B.C./Penticton,  BCHL), Brycen Martin (Calgary, Alta./Swift Current, WHL) and Jake Virtanen (Abbotsford, B.C./Calgary, WHL) added singles.

Martin and Virtanen had a goal and an assist each, while captain Joe Hicketts (Kamloops, B.C./Victoria, WHL) had three helpers.

It’s the first time Pacific has beaten Ontario since a 9-1 victory in the semifinals at the 2005 tournament in Lethbridge, Alta., a span of six games.

Connor McDavid (Newmarket, Ont./Erie, OHL) paced Ontario with two goals and an assist, finishing the tournament with a team-leading nine points in five games.

Aaron Ekblad (Belle River, Ont./Barrie, OHL), Jaden Lindo (Brampton, Ont./Owen Sound, OHL), Jacob Middleton (Stratford, Ont./Owen Sound, OHL) and Spencer Watson (London, Ont./Kingston, OHL) had the other goals for Ontario, while Dante Salituro (Willowdale, Ont./Ottawa, OHL) added two assists.

Ontario finished the tournament with a 2-3 record, the equaling the number of losses it had in the last three tournaments combined.

(Nathan can be reached at

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