The first day of the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge has finished with the United States, Sweden, and Canada Black teams coming out victorious.
To start off the international tournament, the United States competed against Finland at the Langley Events Centre, where the Americans came out to an early 2-0 lead in the first period. However, Finland retaliated with three goals in the second period, which went unanswered by the United States team. In the final period of the game, the situation was flipped and it was the Americans turn to score three unanswered goals, bringing them to a 5-3 victory.
The next two games of the tournament kicked off simultaneously, with Sweden facing Canada White in Delta and the remaining two Canadian teams competing against each other in Langley.
At the Sungod Arena in Delta, Canada White came out to a 1-0 lead in the first period thanks to a late goal by Prince George’s own Miguel Marques, which was assisted by Roger McQueen and Charlie Elick.
A hit to the head penalty in the second period by Chetwynd’s Cayden Lindstrom allowed Swedish forward Alexander Zetterberg to score a power play goal, tying the game up at one goal a piece.
The third period was a bit more back and forth, with Sweden opening the scoring with a goal from Elliott Sigrell less than two minutes into the final period. This was followed up by an unassisted goal from Canada White forward Gavin Hodnett with just over a minute remaining. Only 30 seconds later, Sweden took the go ahead goal thanks to Linus Eriksson, giving them a 3-2 win over Canada White.
The Langley matchup of Canada Black and Canada Red saw the two teams taking very different scoring approaches.
The first third of the game was relatively subdued, with the only goal coming from Canada Black as forward Clarke Caswell buried the puck in the back of the net after an assist from Cole Beaudoin.
The second period was dominated by Canada Red from start to finish.
After Canada Black defenceman Tyson Buczkowski took a hooking penalty less than a minute into the period, Tarin Smith from Canada Red was able to capitalize on the man advantage by scoring a power play goal with assists from Nathan Villeneuve and Sacha Boisvert. Just over a minute later, Canada Red struck again with a goal from Michael Misa. But Canada Black interrupted this stream of scoring with their own goal from Justin Poirier, coming off assists from Malcolm Spence and Josh Fluker. But only 10 seconds later, Canada Red put yet another goal up on the board thanks to Surrey’s Tomas Mrsic, who was assisted by Jett Luchanko and Braedyn Rogers.
Canada Black went into the final period down by a goal, but remained determined and tied up the game with a goal from Zayne Parekh, assisted by Tyson Buczkowski and Vancouver’s Macklin Celebrini. But Parekh wasn’t finished quite yet and struck again for yet another goal with less than a minute to go in the game. This time, it was a power play goal assisted by Thomas Desruisseaux and Lucas Karmiris, capitalizing off of the interference penalty taken by Ben Danford.
Canada Red was unable to force an overtime period, despite pulling their goalie and taking the man advantage. Canada Black’s goaltender Louka Cloutier was able to hold off the final offensive rush, bringing him to a total of 40 saves and a 0.930 save percentage, the best of any goalie in the first day of the tournament. It was this performance that led to Cloutier being given the Player of the Game award, and holding his team to a 4-3 victory over Canada Red.
“We knew he was going to give us a chance to win … you are dealing with teenage kids there are going to be scoring chances, there are going to be mistakes – that’s what makes it fun – but that is why you need a goaltender. He made some real big saves tonight; he was our MVP without question,” said Canada Black coach Mark O’Leary.
Today will see the United States team going up against Czechia at 7 p.m. in Delta, while Canada Black laces up against Finland at 7 p.m. in Langley in hopes of securing their second victory of the tournament.
For a full schedule, tickets, or more information, visit https://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/national-championships/men/world-u17/2022.
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