PORT HAWKESBURY, N.S. – Ryan Gardiner (Winnipeg, Man./Winnipeg Thrashers, MMAAAHL) scored the game-winner eight minutes into the third as West beat Germany 4-3 Friday afternoon, taking ninth place at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Power play goals from Jackson Keane (Winnipeg, Man./Winnipeg, MJHL) and Jesse Gabrielle (Moosomin, Sask./Brandon, WHL) and a shorthanded goal from Colton Conrad (St. Alphonse, Man./Shattuck-St. Mary’s, U.S. Prep) in the second period gave West control of the game.
Cameron Hebig (Saskatoon, Sask./Saskatoon, WHL) added two assists.
West beat Germany for the second time this week, having earned a 7-1 victory in pre-tournament action last Saturday.
After disappointing tournaments, both teams were looking to end on a high note. The opening minutes saw end-to-end rushes and early scoring chances from each side.
As the period went on, West began asserting itself and having more time to set up in the offensive zone, whereas the Germans seemed only to generate scoring chances on the occasional rush.
But it would be Germany getting on the board first, with a power play goal to close out the frame. Julian Napravnik skated in from the left wing to beat goalie Logan Flodell (Regina, Sask./Regina, SMAAHL) with less than a minute to play in the period.
West equalized early in the second, when Keane roofed a shot blocker side from the left face-off circle.
Thirteen seconds later Germany took the lead back. Dimitri Komnik maneuvered through his defender and shovelled the puck past Flodell.
Another late-period penalty, this time to Germany for holding, gave West its second power play of the game. Some nice passing around the offensive zone left Gabrielle with an easy tap in in front of the net.
Less than two minutes later, with West now down a man, the special teams went back to work. Hebig intercepted the puck in front of the German goal and Conrad punched it into an open net for the shorthanded strike.
Gardiner scored his first goal of the tournament as the trailing man on a West rush.
Germany made it close late in third when Simon Schuetz beat Flodell with a hard shot from in close.
Flodell finished with 26 saves. Cody Brenner stopped 25 shots for Germany.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)