BLACK DOWNS U.S. IN OT IN PRELIM FINALE
JASON LA ROSE
MEDICINE HAT, Alta. – Danny Zhilkin (Mississauga, Ont./Guelph, OHL) tied it on the power play with 1:12 to go and Shane Wright (Burlington, Ont./Kingston, OHL) finished it 3:20 into overtime as Canada Black closed out the preliminary round at the 2019 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 5-4 win over the United States on Tuesday afternoon.
The single point the Americans earned for the extra-time loss was enough to clinch first place in Group A despite Black going through the prelims without a loss – it beat the U.S. and Canada White in overtime, and downed the Czech Republic in a shootout.
The U.S. will take on Canada Red or Finland in its quarter-final Thursday, while the Canadians will face off against Russia. Times for all playoff match-ups will be confirmed following the late games Tuesday.
Wright gave the Canadians a little bit of momentum to take into the medal round, parking himself at the top of the crease and flicking a backhand past U.S. goaltender Gibson Homer off a set-up from Zach Dean (Mount Pearl, N.L./Gatineau, QMJHL) for the overtime winner.
After both teams combined for 27 goals in their first two games, it wasn’t much of a surprise to see early action.
James Malatesta (Kirkland, Que./Quebec, QMJHL) started the festivities four-and-a-half minutes in, racing away and tucking a backhand around Homer, but Jack Devine ripped a one-timer past Canadian netminder Ben Gaudreau (Corbeil, Ont./Sarnia, OHL) before the period reached the midway mark.
Black struck for another early goal in the second period off the stick of Brennan Othmann (Pickering, Ont./Flint, OHL), who rifled a quick shot past Homer off a give-and-go with Sean Tschigerl (Whitecourt, Alta./Calgary, WHL), but Ryan St. Louis cleaned up a rebound in front and Dylan Duke banged a second-chance opportunity past Gaudreau to put the Americans ahead for the first time.
Malatesta got his second before the end of the middle frame, tapping in a pass from Dean to send the teams to intermission all even at 3-3.
The Americans looked to have the winner when Jack Hughes went skate-to-stick and beat Gaudreau over the glove at 12:29, but a late U.S. penalty opened the door for Zhilkin, who tipped in a shot from Brandt Clarke (Ottawa, Ont./Barrie, OHL) to tie things up again.
Knowing they needed a regulation win to leapfrog the Americans for top spot, Black pulled Gaudreau in the final minute but couldn’t find the goal they needed.
The U.S. finished with 20 goals in three preliminary-round games, which equals the 2014 American side for most in the prelims since the start of the six-team format.