Fort St. John, B.C.
BIG THIRD PERIOD LEADS CANADA WHITE PAST RUSSIA IN U17 EXHIBITION
JASON LA ROSE
FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – Ryan McLeod (Mississauga, Ont./Mississauga, OHL) opened the floodgates early in the third period Friday night, helping Canada White edge Russia 3-2 in 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge pre-tournament action.
McLeod’s was the first of three goals in a span of 7:37 in the first half of the final period, leading the Canadians to a victory over the defending gold medallists in front of a pro-Canadian crowd at North Peace Arena.
James Hamblin (Edmonton, Alta./Medicine Hat, WHL) and Owen Tippett (Peterborough, Ont./Mississauga, OHL) had the other goals for Canada White.
The story through the first two periods was the goaltenders; Canadian netminder Matthew Welsh (Halifax, N.S./Charlottetown, QMJHL) and Russian counterpart Maxim Zhukov were perfect in the first 40 minutes, combining for 51 stops.
Canada White controlled the first period, outshooting Russia 16-9, only to see the Russians take the momentum in the middle frame, holding a 17-9 advantage in shots.
McLeod finally got the scoring started just 2:06 into the third, deftly deflecting a Jarrod Gourley (Calgary, Alta./Brooks, AJHL) point shot over the shoulder of Zhukov for a 1-0 lead.
Andrei Svechnikov answered quickly for Russia, knocking a loose puck past Welsh, but Hamblin restored the Canadian lead for good at 7:49, roofing a shot over Zhukov while falling to make it a 2-1 game.
Tippett capped the goal barrage on a Canada White power play at 9:43, taking a feed from Ian Mitchell (Calahoo, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL) and snapping a quick shot past Zhukov’s blocker, giving the Canadians the cushion they would need.
Yegor Zaplatnikov made it interesting with seven minutes to go, tapping in a perfect cross-crease feed from Igor Zenchikov, but that was as close as the Russians get, and a late penalty ensured there would be no comeback.
Canada White opens its tournament Sunday against Canada Black in an all-Canadian curtain-raiser in Dawson Creek, B.C., (2:30 p.m. MT).