CANADA BLACK SURVIVES LATE PUSH, BEATS FINNS FOR FIRST U17 WIN
JASON LA ROSE
SARNIA, Ont. – Sam Steel (Sherwood Park, Alta./Regina, WHL) and Pierre-Luc Dubois (Rimouski, Que./Cape Breton, QMJHL) had a goal and an assist each, and Canada Black turned back a comeback attempt in the dying minutes to beat Finland 4-3 on Tuesday for their first win at the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Despite the result, the Finns finished atop Group A with a 1-1-0-1 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record, while the Canadians sit at the bottom of the group at 1-0-1-1, although just a single point separated all four teams.
Canada Black will now face the unbeaten United States in Thursday’s early quarter-final in Lambton Shores, Ont. (3 p.m. ET), while Finland will take on winless Slovakia at the RBC Centre in Sarnia (3 p.m. ET).
Kale Clague (Lloydminster, Alta./Brandon, WHL) and Cliff Pu (Vaughan, Ont./Oshawa, OHL) had the other goals for Canada Black, which led 4-1 with under four minutes to go before the Finns scored two late goals to make things interesting.
Otto Mäkinen, Janne Kuokkanen and Emil Oksanen scored for Finland, which suffered its first loss.
It took only 2:32 for Black to open the scoring; Dubois found a loose puck to the left of Finnish netminder Leevi Laakso and roofed a shot from in close, exciting the pro-Canadian crowd at Sarnia Arena.
But the Finns answered back less than three minutes later when Mäkinen beat Canadian goaltender Stuart Skinner (Edmonton, Alta./Lethbridge, WHL) with a quick shot from the slot, sending the game to the first intermission tied 1-1.
Both goaltenders were busy in the second period – Finland outshot Canada Black 13-10 – but it wasn’t until the 15:36 mark, when Clague ripped a shot from the point with the Canadians enjoying a two-man advantage, that one team broke the deadlock.
Pu made it a two-goal game shortly after the second half of the extended power play had ended, tipping a Jake Bean (Calgary, Alta./Calgary, WHL) shot underneath the arm of Laakso to give Canada Black a 3-1 advantage.
Steel scored what seemed to be just another insurance goal with 5:51 to go, banging in a pass from Dubois at the side of the net, but late goals from Kuokkanen and Oksanen made it the game-winner.
The Canadian penalty kill came up big, keeping Finland without a goal in six power play opportunities, as did its goaltender; Skinner finished with 24 saves to record his first win.