Lethbridge, AB / Mount Pearl, NL - Based on their theme for the week,
"Small Towns, Big Dreams" - For the first time in the nineteen year history of Team Atlantic, 22 young Atlantic Canadians will have the chance to play for a medal at the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. Team Atlantic clinched their birth in the semi-finals with a convincing 4-0 win over Finland on Sunday in Lethbridge, Alberta at the Emmax Centre.
Team Atlantic started the scoring early, just 0:36 seconds into the game,
when James Sheppard put one past the Finland Goalie, Mika Jarvinen.
Sheppard, Team Atlantic's Captain, scored his second of the game at 13:05 of the first when he converted on the powerplay.
The second period was scoreless as both goalies played well and Atlantic's
Roger Kennedy made a few key saves to preserve the Team Atlantic lead.
In the third period, Team Atlantic sealed the victory when Sheppard scored his third of the game and Brad Marchand continued his strong play by adding a pair of goals.
Roger Kennedy made 29 saves for his first shutout of the event.
Sheppard received the Player of the Game Honors for Team Atlantic, while Timo Rinne received the same honor for Finland.
"This is an unbelievable feeling right now," Ken Dobson, Director ofOperations for Team Atlantic stated after the game. "We belong here, we have proven that, and now it is up to us how far we will go."
Trevor Murphy, General Manager of Team Atlantic and Manager of HockeyCanada's Atlantic Centre of Excellence noted, "This is a great day for hockey in Atlantic Canada. I am so very proud of our players, staff and all of the volunteers in Minor Hockey Systems across the Atlantic Region which have contributed to this history making win. This victory and of the hard work put forth by Team Atlantic are for the hockey participants in Atlantic Canada past and present and this shows that our region can compete with anyone. We should be very proud of ourselves!"
Dave Ritcey, Coach of Team Atlantic said, " Character is the key to becoming a team and being successful - and we have it. I am so proud of our dressing room right now, that it is hard to put into words."
Team Atlantic will have a pre-game skate on Monday Morning and will use that as their tune up as they prepare to face Team Western in one of the semi-final games that night. Team Atlantic and Team Western will face off at 7:30pm (MT) for the right to advance to the Gold Medal Game.