VICTORIAVILLE, Que. – Brandon Hickey (Leduc, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL) scored 45 seconds into overtime to give Pacific a 4-3 win over West in the preliminary round finale for both at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge on Wednesday night.
Despite the victory, Pacific will not play in Thursday’s semifinals; it needed to beat West in regulation time in order to stay ahead of the Russians, who will now be the second seed from Group A in the semis.
Josh Thrower (North Vancouver, B.C./Calgary, WHL), Brayden Point (Calgary, Alta./Moose Jaw, WHL) and Tanner MacMaster (Calgary, Alta./Camrose, AJHL) also scored the Pacific, which narrowly missed out on the final four for the second year in a row – it finished last year’s prelims in a three-way tie with the U.S. and Russia, but was the odd team out on the tiebreaker.
Point and MacMaster finished with a goal and an assist each.
With the loss, Pacific will now meet Ontario in Thursday’s fifth-place game in Victoriaville (1:30 p.m. ET), a marquee match-up most fans had pegged for a medal game, instead of the fifth-place contest.
Kolten Olynek (Saskatoon, Sask./Saskatoon, SMAAAHL), Miles Warkentine (Prince Albert, Sask./Noose Jaw, WHL) and Reid Gardiner (Humboldt, Sask./Prince Albert, WHL) had the goals for West, which picked an opportune time for its first point of the tournament, eliminating its long-time rivals from gold medal contention.
Gardiner’s goal with 3:01 remaining tied the game and denied Pacific the extra point it needed.
Ty Edmonds (Winnipeg, Man./Virden, MJHL) was stellar in the West goal, making 30 saves in a losing cause, while Pacific netminder Payton Lee (Cranbrook, B.C./Vancouver, WHL) had 15 stops.
For the second year in a row West will play in the ninth-place game, taking on Slovakia on Thursday afternoon at the Pavillon Jean-Béliveau (1:30 p.m. ET) in a rematch of last Friday’s pre-tournament game, won 5-2 by the Canadian side.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)