SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – It was a week of steady growth and improvement for Team Canada Black, and it is headed home from the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a hard-earned silver medal.
Team Canada Black’s lone goal came late in the first period from Eli Zummack (Kelowna, B.C./Okanagan, BCMML), assisted by team captain Ty Smith (Lloydminster, Alta./Spokane, WHL) and Calen Addison (Brandon, Man./Lethbridge, WHL). Sweden tied it up in the second, and the Canadians weren’t able to make up a goal after the Swedes went ahead by one in the third on a power-play goal.
“We went through our process – we stuck to everything that we tried to do on a daily basis, ever since we came here a couple weeks ago to the Soo, and overall the kids really left it on the ice,” said Team Canada Black head coach Paul Boutilier of his team’s progress through the tournament. “We’re proud of the effort. Every player in there gave it their all. The Soo was fantastic – the people, our volunteers, the whole group. Our local committee here did a real good job. We were proud to come here and we experienced a real great hockey town.”
Goaltender Jacob Ingham (Barrie, Ont./Mississauga, OHL) stopped 33 shots from the speedy Swedish team; Team Canada Black tallied 28 shots-on-goal in the final.
“We played a great game, all around. We played the way we wanted. Our coaches coached us the right way and I think we executed pretty well,” said Smith. “[Sweden] got a good goal in the third on the power play, and I think we just needed to capitalize a little more on our chances. We had chances to tie the game up or even take the lead a little earlier on, and we even had that power play in the third, but it just didn’t go for us.”
Team Canada White falls to Russians in bronze-medal game
Earlier in the day, Team Canada White faced Russia at the Essar Centre for bronze. The Russians came out early, scoring three goals in the first period on their way to a 6-1 win over Team Canada White.
“You learn a lot,” said Team Canada White head coach, Brent Kisio of his experience with the Hockey Canada program and at the tournament. “Anytime you’re in international competition you learn a lot. You have good people around you, you have some great access to some good coaches. It’s a learning experience, and hopefully it helps you moving forward.”
Carson Focht (Regina/Tri-City, WHL) scored late in the second, assisted by Jonathan Tychonick (Calgary/Penticton, BCHL) and Liam Foudy (Toronto/London, OHL), on the power play, but the Russians held Team Canada White back from making any further headway on the scoreboard.
Since the first World Under-17 Hockey Challenge (then known as the Quebec Esso Cup) in 1986, more than 1,600 NHL draft picks have played in the tournament, including 13 of the last 16 first-overall selections (Ilya Kovalchuk, 2001; Rick Nash, 2002; Marc-André Fleury, 2003; Alexander Ovechkin, 2004; Erik Johnson, 2006; Patrick Kane, 2007; John Tavares, 2009; Taylor Hall, 2010; Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 2011; Nathan MacKinnon, 2013; Aaron Ekblad, 2014; Connor McDavid, 2015; Auston Matthews, 2016).