U.S. FINISHES PERFECT RUN, WINS UNDER-17 GOLD
by David Brien
SYDNEY, N.S. – The United States capped a dominant run through the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge on Saturday night, blanking Pacific 4-0 to win its fourth gold medal.
The Americans went a perfect 6-0, outscoring the opposition by a combined 47-6.
Luke Kirwan scored twice to pace the offence, while Colin White and Christian Fischer added singles. White also had an assist to finish as the tournament’s leading scorer with 18 points (10 goals, eight assists) in six games.
Michael Lackey needed to make just 12 saves for the shutout, while his Canadian counterpart, Zach Sawchenko (Calgary, Alta./Moose Jaw, WHL) was terrific in the Pacific goal, turning aside 48 of 52 shots.
The U.S. opened the scoring just past the 13-minute mark of the first period, when a delayed Pacific penalty sent an extra American skater into the offensive zone.
Kirwan spun in the corner and tried to centre the puck, but instead it banked off Sawchenko’s pad and past the Pacific netminder for the all-important first goal.
Fischer doubled the lead in the dying seconds of the first period, stepping into the slot and absolutely wiring a shot past Sawchenko for a two-goal lead that, based on the way the Americans had performed in the tournament, seemed liked a steep hill to climb for the Canadian side.
It took White just 33 seconds of the second period to extend the lead even further, beating Sawchenko for his tournament-leading 10th goal.
Although Sawchenko was standing tall in the Pacific goal, making 22 saves alone in the second period, his teammates could not beat Lackey, not reaching double digits in shots on goal until the seven-minute mark of the third period.
Kirwan put the final nail in the coffin 11:34 into the third, with White picking up his final point of an impressive tournament, and Jeremy Bracco adding his third assist of the night.
It took until the six-minute mark of the second period for the game’s first penalty. Both teams went 0-for-3 on the power play in what was a physical but disciplined game for both teams.
Pacific has now taken home silver from the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge on six occasions (2001, 2002, 2004, 2005, 2009, 2014), more than any other team. Three of those losses, in 2001, 2002 and this year, have come at the hands of the Americans.