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Canada Red To Challenge USA For Gold In World U-17 Final – The Hockey News

World U-17

Canada ran the table on the final day of round-robin action at the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, setting up the host country with two opportunities to play for medals as the tournament concludes on Saturday.

Canada Red will play for gold against unbeaten Team USA after vaulting themselves to second place in the round-robin standings with a 6-3 victory over Sweden on Friday night at Sungod Arena in Delta, B.C. Two nights earlier, the Red team took down Finland, 8-5. 

“Our motto was just, ‘believe,'” said Canada Red captain Berkly Catton, who picked up one assist on Friday to finish tied for his team’s scoring lead with 10 points. “You have to believe in ourselves and the team and all of our systems. It’s obviously paid off.”

Canada Red and Sweden entered Friday’s game with identical 2-1-2-0 records in the standings, knowing that only one squad could advance to the medal round. The Swedes controlled the action early, but Tij Iginla opened the scoring for the Canadiens at 6:28 of the first period, chipping a rebound off a shot by Ethan Procyszyn past Swedish goalie Hugo Laring.

Procyszyn “entered the zone and it just kind of found me there at the net,” Iginla said. “I was able to bury it, which was really big for us.”

Sweden outshot Canada 18-16 in the opening frame, but the two sides went to their respective locker rooms in a 2-2 tie. Viggo Nordlund and Anton Olsson were able to beat Canadian netminder Gabriel D’Aigle, while Ben Cormier chipped in his first of the tournament for the Canadians.

Early in the second, Procyszyn and Nathan Villeneuve scored 90 seconds apart to give Canada a 4-2 lead. Mans Torreson beat D’Aigle on a shorthanded tally to cut the lead to one goal heading into the third.

Canada’s Porter Martone added his fourth and fifth goals of the tournament in the final frame. The latter was scored into the empty net with 1:07 left on the clock.

The final shots in the game were 38-38, including 11-7 for Sweden in the third period.

“I would definitely say that our goalie was our MVP,” said Iginla. “Even at moments that we were getting outplayed, he kept us in there. He was someone we could lean on today.”

Justin Poirier

Justin Poirier earned the player of the game honors for Team Canada Black on Friday.

Earlier in the day, Canada Black punched its ticket to the medal round with a see-saw 7-5 win over Czechia at the Langley Events Centre. In the late game in Langley, Canada White dominated Finland by an 8-2 score, finishing out of the medal round but helping out their countrymen by preventing the Finns from collecting any additional points in the standings.

Undermanned offensively with both Macklin Celebrini and Malcolm Spence out of the lineup, Canada Black got an offensive boost on Friday from Justin Poirier. With a goal and two assists, he was named his squad’s player of the game.

“We know he’s a shooter, and we know he has the skill to score goals,” said Canada Black coach Mark O’Leary of the WHL’s Moose Jaw Warriors. “What I like about him is the way that he works away from the puck. He’s turned into a real important player for us.”

The Czechs ended their tournament without a win, but continued to fight right to the final buzzer. Adam Benak even unleashed a ‘Michigan’ goal following a late-game timeout, pulling his team within one at 6-5 with 2:35 left on the clock.

Czechia heads home with just a single standings point and an 0-0-5-1 record. Canada White finishes the tournament in sixth place, with a record of 1-1-3-1 for six points and Sweden finishes fifth with eight points at 2-1-3-0.

Cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, the tournament is being played for the first time in three years. Both medal games will be played Saturday at the Langley Events Centre and televised on TSN.

First, third-place Canada Black (3-0-2-1) takes on fourth-place Finland (3-0-3-0) in the bronze-medal game at noon PT. Then, the 6-0-0-0 United States will play for gold against Canada Red at 5 p.m. PT.

The Americans were unbeatable in the round-robin, winning all six of their games by multi-goal margins. On aggregate, they outscored their opponents 39-12 for a plus-27 goal differential. Center James Hagens, who isn’t draft eligible until 2025, topped the tournament scoring race with 16 points in six games, while his left winger Cole Eiserman tallied nine goals and 14 points.

While other nations pull rosters together specifically for this tournament — and Canada blends players from all across the country to set its three different squads — USA Hockey takes a different approach. Their philosophy is to name U-17 and U-18 rosters which stay together for the full season, as well as representing their country in international tournaments.

This time around, that familiarity has paid big dividends.

“They’re a good team,” said Catton, whose Canada Red squad fell 5-2 to the Americans in round-robin action last Monday. “They’ve been playing together for a couple months now, but I think at the end of the day, it’s hockey. Anything can happen. We’re going to come out and give them a good game.”