NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. – Pacific and Quebec went back and forth Sunday night inside the Emera Centre Northside, with the eastern Canadians scoring a 4-3 win to open up the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
As expected, the all-Canadian battle between teams with gold medal aspirations showcased the best of Canadian hockey – hard-hitting and fast-paced, with plenty of chances between the two teams.
It was Pacific that came out firing, outshooting Quebec (1-0) 15-5 in the first period, but found itself trailing 2-0 through 20 minutes thanks to goals from Jason Bell (Montreal, Que./Cape Breton, QMJHL) and Nicolas Meloche (Rosemère, Que./Baie-Comeau, QMJHL).
The Quebec power outage in the first period can be explained by the fact it was shorthanded three times in the first 15 minutes, although Pacific (0-1) went 0-for-3 in the period, and 0-for-7 overall.
Pacific’s offence finally started to click in the second period; Nick Merkley (Calgary, Alta./Kelowna, WHL)got the westerners on the board at 3:52, finishing off a pretty passing play just as a power play expired, and Brad Morrison (Prince George, B.C./Prince George, WHL) tied it at 9:09.
In a 2-2 game through 40 minutes, both teams came out the intensity for the third period, but it was Pacific that struck first, taking its first lead on a Glenn Gawdin (Richmond, B.C./Swift Current, WHL) goal at 2:51.
But Quebec refused to roll over, and captain Jeremy Roy (Richelieu, Que./Sherbrooke, QMJHL) took advantage of a screened Nick McBride (Maple Ridge, B.C./Prince Albert, WHL) and scored with a wrist shot from the point less than five minutes after Gawdin’s goal.
That set up the winner from Maxime Fortier (Lachine, Que./Lac St-Louis, LHMAAAQ) with just 4:53 to go; the Quebec forward came storming down the left wing and powered his way to the net, sliding the puck between McBride’s pads.
Final shots on goal were 31-20 in favor of Pacific.
Quebec goes for a 2-0 start when it faces the Czech Republic on Monday afternoon (2 p.m. AT) in Sydney, N.S., while Pacific is back in action Monday night (7 p.m. AT) against West in North Sydney.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)