NORTH SYDNEY, N.S. – West is into the win column at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, beating Sweden 3-2 in a shootout Wednesday afternoon at the Emera Centre Northside in one of the most exciting games of the week.
Jackson Keane (Winnipeg, Man./Winnipeg, MJHL) and Troy Murray (White City, Sask./Kootenay, WHL) scored shootout goals and Logan Flodell (Regina, Sask./Regina, SMAAAHL) was lights out in the West goal, making 38 saves in regulation and overtime, and stopping both Swedish attempts in the shootout.
West came out strong, spending plenty of time in the Swedish zone in the first period, but managing only six shots on goaltender Rasmus Hedström. Meanwhile, the Swedes directed 16 at Flodell in the opening frame.
After the goalless first period, West opened the scoring late in the second with a power play goal by Connor Hobbs (Saskatoon, Sask./Saskatoon Blazers, SMAAAHL), set up by Colton Conrad (St.Alphonse, Man./Shattuck-St. Mary’s, U.S. Prep) and Terrell Draude (Warman, Sask./Calgary, WHL).
West used the man advantage to double its lead at the 4:34 mark of the third period, with Hobbs and Conrad setting up Keegan Kolesar (Winnipeg, Man./Seattle, WHL) to make it 2-0.
Hedström made sure it stayed a two-goal game, twice stopping Jesse Gabrielle (Moosomin, Sask./Brandon, WHL) on shorthanded breakaways created from blue-line turnovers.
The Swedes finally broke through at 16:11 of the third period when John Dahlström surprised Flodell with a sneaky wraparound, and Filip Ahl leveled the game at 2-2 just 1:42 later, beating Flodell from in close after being left alone by the West defence.
The final 102 seconds were scoreless and overtime solved nothing, so the first Group A game of 2014 headed to a shootout, the second time in less than 24 hours that the Swedes would need game-winning shots to decide a victor.
Ahl went first but was denied by Flodell, and Keane went to the backhand to beat Hedström.
Jonathan Leman was the next Swedish shooter, but Flodell turned him away with a poke check, and Murray roofed one over Hedström’s glove to give the Canadians the win.
Both teams finish the preliminary round Thursday; West takes on Quebec in an all-Canadian matinee (2 p.m. AT) in North Sydney, while the Swedes meet Pacific in the night cap (7 p.m. AT) at the Emera Centre Northside.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)