WHITE EDGES BLACK IN OT CLASSIC AT U17 CHALLENGE
JASON LA ROSE
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Connor McClennon (Wainwright, Alta./Kootenay, WHL) needed just 35 seconds of overtime to be the hero, giving Canada White a 5-4 extra-time win over Canada Black in a thriller Sunday at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
McClennon picked up a loose puck at the offensive blue-line and cut towards the middle of the ice before going back across his body and beating Black goaltender Joe Vrbetic (Dunvegan, Ont./Powassan, NOJHL) low to the stick side.
The game went back and forth from the first drop of the puck, with White holding 1-0 and 2-1 advantages before Black went ahead 3-2 and 4-3.
It’s the fourth time in five all-time meetings White has beaten its Canadian rivals.
Cole Perfetti (Whitby, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) was the offensive leader for White, scoring once and adding three assists, while Jérémie Poirier (Salaberry-de-Valleyfield, Que./Saint John, QMJHL) – one of four Saint John Sea Dogs on the Canadian rosters – had a pair of goals.
Poirier was first onto the scoresheet, sneaking in to the back door and tapping in a feed from Perfetti, but Quinton Byfield (Newmarket, Ont./Sudbury, OHL) got Black even with a shorthanded goal just over two minutes later, knocking in a saucer pass from Daemon Hunt (Brandon, Man,/Moose Jaw, WHL) to make it 1-1.
Perfetti restored the White lead late in the opening frame, racing down the right wing and snapping a quick shot to the far side on Vrbetic.
Black took its first lead with a pair of early goals in the second period. Will Cuylle (Toronto, Ont./Windsor, OHL) tied the game at 1:12, scoring from in close, before Josh Lawrence (Fredericton, N.B./Saint John, QMJHL) finished a tic-tac-toe set-up from Tyler Tullio (Lakeshore, Ont./Oshawa, OHL) and James Hardie (Innisfil, Ont./Mississauga, OHL) for a 3-2 advantage at 2:58.
Poirier got the game back on even terms nine minutes into the middle frame, tapping in another pass from Perfetti to send the teams to the intermission even at 3-3.
Spencer Smith (St. Catharines, Ont./Buffalo, OJHL) gave Black another lead just 3:29 into the third period, but Théo Rochette (Donnacona, Que./Chicoutimi, QMJHL) went off the post, off Vrbetic and in four minutes after that to make it 4-4 and eventually force the extra period.
White netminder Tristan Lennox (Cambridge, Ont./Brantford, OJHL) was the story of the final frame, making 13 of his 27 saves to help get the game to overtime.
Canada White returns to the ice at Harbour Station on Monday night when it takes on the United States (7:30 p.m. AT), while Canada Black looks to bounce back earlier in the day against the Czech Republic (3:30 p.m. AT).