BLACK FINISHES STRONG AT U17S, TOPS SWEDEN FOR SEVENTH PLACE
JASON LA ROSE
DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Sasha Mutala (Vancouver, B.C./Tri-City, WHL) had a goal and two assists to finish off a terrific tournament, and Canada Black closed out its 2017 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 4-2 win over Sweden in the seventh-place game Friday.
Mutala had back-to-back three-point games to move into a tie for second in tournament scoring with eight points (5-3—8), and his five goals are a tournament best with the semifinals and medal games to be played.
Aidan Prueter (Komoka, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) and Massimo Rizzo (Burnaby, B.C./Penticton, BCHL) added a goal and an assist apiece for Black, which finished with three wins and a pair of one-goal losses in five games.
After both teams had their chances in a scoreless first period, the floodgates opened in the second.
Elmer Söderblom got it started at 3:02, tipping a Philip Broberg shot past Black goaltender Roman Basran (Abbotsford, B.C./Okanagan, BCMML), but Dawson Mercer (Bay Roberts, N.L./Drummondville, QMJHL) replied for the Canadians just over four minutes later when he finished a quick passing play with Prueter and Jamieson Rees (Hamilton, Ont./Sarnia, OHL).
Victor Soderstrom needed just 1:12 to restore the lead for Sweden when he got a shot thorugh traffic and past Basran, but Mutala wired a shot past Swedish netminder Matteus Ward off the right wing at 11:19.
Rizzo capped a busy period by finding a loose puck and beating Ward with a quick shot at 12:46 to give the Canadians their first lead – one they would not give back.
Basran was the story of the third period, making 13 of his 30 saves in the final frame before Prueter added an empty-net goal with 45 seconds remaining to finish the scoring.
Sweden, which hoisted the trophy 12 months ago in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., is the first team to go from gold medallist to last place the following year.