The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge has been billed as a look at tomorrow’s NHL stars, and with that the future of the league is extremely bright, especially between the pipes. Canada red goalie Michael DiPietro, and Russia goalie Maxim Zhukov put on a goaltending clinic that needed six shootout rounds to be decided.
Canada red got off to a great start in the game as Jordan Bellerive opened the scoring just two minutes in. With just over four minutes left in the first they increased their lead to two as finding the back of the net on the power play was Josh Brook.
The common theme at the World Under-17s has been teams scoring late and using that momentum in the next period. For Russia that’s exactly what happened as a late second period goal was followed by an early third period marker to knot things up.
After the game was tied Canada threw everything they had at Maxim Zhukov including the kitchen sink, but were unable to solve the Russian tender. Canada outshot Russia 25-10 in the third period and overtime combined but had nothing to show of their work.
The game was decided by the always controversial shootout which required six rounds before being won by Kirill Slepets. Both goalies had stopped all shooters prior to the winner.
After the game Canada red head coach Kris Knoblauch said if played the same way in another game, they probably come away with the win and that his squad did a lot of good things in the contest.
“Our team competed pretty well for 60 minutes. Yeah there were a couple of mistakes but every game has those. We feel that if we played that over again and play the same way we probably have a different result so I’m very proud of our players,” he said.
With such a difficult loss nobody would blame Canada red if they had a poor performance tomorrow, but Knoblauch wouldn’t accept that as an excuse given the track record of his team so far.
“Tomorrow we’re going to be playing a team that went through the same situation with a heartbreaking loss. I want our players to be very proud of what they’ve accomplished. They’ve played so hard for almost two weeks and I would expect they do the same tomorrow,” he said.
Despite the defeat the Fort St. John faithful gave Canada red a well deserved standing ovation. The support in the game and throughout the week was certainly appreciated.
“The support we’ve had in Fort St. John here has been tremendous. I don’t know that we could have had a better situation to play in. Tonight they were amazing. It was a very exciting hockey game for them to be involved in. The support they gave us tonight, we appreciate it,” Knoblauch said.
Canada red will now play in the bronze medal game tomorrow in Dawson Creek at 3 p.m. against Sweden. Russia will play for gold at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow as well against Canada white.