SYDNEY, N.S. – Once Ontario and Atlantic stepped onto the ice Monday night at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, it took only a few shifts for the Centre 200 crowd to realize the all-Canadian match-up was going to be a typical Canadian game – high tempo and very physical.
In the end, it was Ontario earning a 5-1 victory to remain unbeaten and keep pace with the United States atop Group B, although it was the 2,000-plus fans in Sydney who went home as winners.
Graham Knott (Holland Landing, Ont./Niagara, OHL) led the way with two goals for Ontario, while Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont./Erie, OHL), with a goal and an assist, and Blake Speers (Sault Ste. Marie, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL), with two helpers, also had multiple-point nights.
Knott got the scoring started just 4:25, and Ontario looked set to pull away early with back-to-back five-on-three power plays midway through the opening period, but the Atlantic penalty kill got the job done, holding Ontario to just three shots.
Atlantic was strong while shorthanded all night, holding Ontario’s lethal five-man unit without a goal in eight chances, thanks in large part to goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon (Antigonish, N.S./Valley, MHL), was the early hero for the hosts.
Strome doubled the Ontario lead midway through the second period with a beautiful goal, winning a defensive zone face-off before streaking around an Atlantic defender and squeezing a wrist shot past Mann-Dixon.
Knott’s second of the game made it 3-0 after two periods.
Travis Konecny (Clachan, Ont./Ottawa, OHL) added his first goal of the tournament less than two minutes into the third period for a 4-0 lead before Colby Tower (Troy, N.S./Valley, MHL) set up Nicholas Welsh (Halifax, N.S./Shawinigan, LHJMQ), uncovered in the slot, with a terrific cross-crease backhand pass to get Atlantic on the board on the power play.
Hayden McCool (Whitby, Ont./Niagara, OHL) added the final Ontario goal in the last minute.
Atlantic is back at it Tuesday night (7 p.m. AT) for a New Year’s Eve showdown with the U.S., in Sydney, while Ontario won’t play again until 2014; it faces Russia on Wednesday night (7 p.m. AT) at Centre 200.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)