(Photos courtesy of Andy Devlin/Hockey Canada Images)
SYDNEY, Nova Scotia - Colin White (Hanover, Mass.) notched two goals, including a short-handed tally, and added an assist, as the U.S. Men's National Under-17 Team handled Canada's Team Ontario, 6-2, here tonight at Centre 200 in its final preliminary-round game of the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. With the win, Team USA clinches the top seed in Group B and enters the semifinals with an undefeated 4-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) record.
"We faced our toughest test yet, but we battled all game long," said Don Granato, head coach of the U.S. Men's National Under-17 Team. "We are right where we wanted to be, having clinched the top seed. We're excited to advance and must continue to improve game after game."
Ontario opened the scoring at 13:54 of the first frame. White pulled Team USA even at one goal apiece 2:40 later while short handed. As Ontario was breaking out of its zone, White anticipated the play to intercept a pass at Ontario's blueline. He skated in from Ontario netminder Ben Blacker's left side and chipped the puck high into the left corner over the blocker for the tally.
Luke Kirwan (Dewitt, N.Y.) scored the lone goal of the second stanza to break the 1-1 tie. Collecting the puck after a faceoff win, White whipped around and found Kirwan standing in the middle of the faceoff circle. Kirwan one-timed the pass, beating Blacker to send the U.S. into the second intermission with a one-goal advantage.
Ontario knotted the game at two markers just 1:33 into the final frame, before Matthew Tkachuk (St. Louis, Mo.) answered for Team USA while down a man. Luke Kunin (Chesterfield, Mo.) earned an assist on the go-ahead goal. Auston Matthews (Scottsdale, Ariz.) doubled the U.S. lead, 4-2, at 13:01, converting immediately following a faceoff to Blacker's left. Matthews corralled the puck in the slot and fired the puck into the back of the net. White's second on the night extended Team USA's lead to three goals. White parked in front of the Ontario net and slammed home a pass from Jeremy Bracco (Freeport, N.Y.) for the score. Jack Roslovic (Columbus, Ohio) sealed the victory with a power-play tally with one minute remaining in the game. Jordan Greenway (Potsdam, N.Y.) and Christian Fischer (Wayne, Ill.) assisted.
Luke Opilka (St. Louis, Mo.) made 22 saves for Team USA in the victory, while Blacker blocked 48 shots for Ontario in the loss.
All games of the 2014 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (excluding the title game) will be streamed live, and also available on-demand, at FASTHockey.com.
The U.S. Men's National Under-17 Team next plays Friday, Jan. 3, versus Canada's Team Quebec in the semifinal round. Puck drop is scheduled for 6 p.m. EST at Centre 200 in Sydney, Nova Scotia.
Luke Opika (22 saves)
Ben Blacker (48 saves)