NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. – Matteo Gennaro (St. Albert, Alta./Prince Albert, WHL) scored twice and added an assist to lead the offence as Pacific beat Russia 7-3 Friday night in the semifinals of the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Pacific is into the final for the sixth time, and first since 2009. It has never won an under-17 gold medal, finishing as runner-up in 2001, 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2009.
The Canadian side will face the United States in Saturday night’s gold medal game at Centre 200 in Sydney, N.S., a game that can be seen live on TSN beginning at 5 p.m. AT.
Nick Merkley (Calgary, Alta./Kelowna, WHL), Noah Juulsen (Abbotsford, B.C./Everett, WHL), Ty Ronning (Burnaby, B.C./Vancouver, WHL), Jansen Harkins (North Vancouver, B.C./Prince George, WHL) and Giorgio Estephan (Edmonton, Alta./Lethbridge, WHL) had the other goals for Pacific, which is the first Canadian team to reach the final since Ontario won its eighth gold medal in 2011.
Aleksandr Zhebelev, Dmitry Zhukenov and Artur Tyanulin had the goals for Russia, which will meet Quebec for bronze on Saturday afternoon (noon AT) in Sydney after making back-to-back gold medal game appearances.
It was the Russians who struck first on the power play, with Zhukenov beating Pacific netminder Zach Sawchenko (Calgary, Alta./Moose Jaw, WHL) from his stomach at 5:22, but it took the Canadians less than five minutes to respond; Merkley tipped in a Chaz Reddekopp (West Kelowna, B.C./Victoria, WHL) point shot to tie the game.
Zhebelev retored the Russian advantage at 12:56, but Juulsen beat Ivan Samsonov from the point 76 seconds later, and Ronning went top shelf over Samsonov’s glove with 15 seconds left in the opening frame to give Pacific the lead for good.
The Canadians dominated Russia in the second period, outshooting them 18-4, and Gennaro doubled the lead on a power play at 15:24, jamming a loose puck past Samsonov.
The offensive onslaught continued in the third, with Gennaro, Harkins and Estephan scoring in a span of 3:24 to put the game away.
Tyanulin scored a consolation power-play goal for the Russians with 2:08 left to cap the scoring.
Pacific outshot Russia 54-28 overall.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)