Fort St. John, B.C.
DIPIETRO STANDS TALL, CANADA RED OPENS U17S WITH WIN OVER FINNS
JASON LA ROSE
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Michael DiPietro (Amherstburg, Ont./Windsor, OHL) was the star of the show Sunday night, turning aside 30 shots to lead Canada Red to a 3-1 win over Finland in the first game for both at the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
The goaltender made half of his stops in the third period, when the Finns pushed hard offensively to cut into what was a 2-0 Canadian lead after 40 minutes, but couldn’t get more than one puck past DiPietro.
Shawn Boudrias (Terrebonne, Que./Charlottetown, QMJHL) scored the game-winner in the last minute of the second period, and joined MacKenzie Entwistle (Georgetown, Ont./Hamilton, OHL) and Antoine Morand (Mercier, Que./Acadie-Bathurst, QMJHL) as Red goal-scorers.
Both teams had chances in a scoreless first period – in which Red held a narrow 9-8 advantage in shots on goal – but it took until the early minutes of the second for the Canadians to break through.
Hard work behind the net by Boudrias and Maxime Comtois (Ste-Martine, Que./Victoriaville, QMJHL) got the puck into the slot and onto the stick of Entwistle, who wired a wrist shot past Finnish netminder Lassi Lehtinen just shy of the six-minute mark.
Red continued to push to extend its lead, and was rewarded in the dying second of the middle frame when Boudrias snuck a shot from in close through the five-hole from Lehtinen for a 2-0 lead after two periods.
But Finland refused to go down without a fight, outshooting Red 16-7 in the third period.
Eeli Tolvanen finally got a shot past DiPietro at 13:46, jumping on a turnover deep in the Canadian zone and snapping a quick shot over the glove of the Canadian goaltender to cut the Red lead to 2-1.
It took just 1:52, though, for Red to strike right back; Jordan Bellerive (North Vancouver, B.C./Lethbridge, WHL) wrapped the puck around and it fell onto the stick of Morand, who jammed in the insurance marker.
Finland finished with a 31-26 advantage in shots on goal.
Canada Red goes for a 2-0 start on Monday night when it faces Sweden (7 p.m. MT), while Finland is on the ice for the matinee at North Peace Arena, meeting Russia (2:30 p.m. MT).