SYDNEY, N.S. – The United States scored four unanswered goals in the third period to cruise to a 6-2 win over Ontario on Thursday night and clinch first place in Group B at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
After Russia beat Atlantic 6-3 earlier in the day, Ontario needed a win to book a spot in the semifinals. Instead, they’ll have to settle for the fifth-place game against Sweden on Friday afternoon (2 p.m. AT).
Colin White led the United States with two goals, and Luke Kirwan chipped in with a goal and an assist.
Ontario got goals from Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont./Erie, OHL) and Brett McKenzie (Vars, Ont./North Bay, OHL).
Ben Blacker (Oakville, Ont./Milton, OJHL) was outstanding in net for Ontario, stopping 48 shots.
In a game between pre-tournament favourites, it was Ontario getting on the board first. Mitchell Marner (Thornhill, Ont./London, OHL) worked the puck up the left side and fed a cross-ice pass to Strome, who scored his fourth goal of the tournament.
The United States evened things up minutes later. With Michael Floodstrand sitting two for tripping, White blocked a Mitchell Vande Sompel (London, Ont./Oshawa, OHL) pass and skated in on a breakaway from the blue line, beating Blacker glove side for the shorthanded marker.
Blacker continued to stand on his head in the second. He sprawled on his stomach to stop the Americans from punching the puck in the net on an early power play and later stopped a one-timer five feet from the crease.
The United States finally broke through late in the period, when Kirwan scored from just inside the left face-off circle.
McKenzie’s wrist shot, also from the left face-off circle, tied things up again early in the third.
It was all the United States from there on. Matthew Tkachuk scored the Americans’ second shorthanded goal of the game on a nice give-and-go with Luke Kunin.
Auston Matthews added an insurance marker minutes later, and White and Jack Roslovic padded the lead with almost-identical goals scored from just outside the crease.
The United States meets Quebec in one semifinal on Friday (7 p.m. AT); Russia and Pacific will square off in the other.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)