Mississauga Steelheads forward Owen Tippett was the star of the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge final on Saturday, scoring three goals as Canada White overcame the defending tournament champions from Russia with a 6-2 victory to win gold.
Tippett, the fourth overall pick at the most recent OHL Draft, only needed 1:26 to find the back of the net for the first time. It was a rough start for goaltender Maxim Zhukov, who, after having a very strong tournament throughout, probably would have liked to save the first shot of the game instead of putting his team in a hole.
The lead wouldn’t last for long, though. At 3:02 into the game, Andrei Svechnikov answered back for Russia with a screened shot from the top of the faceoff circle, beating Ian Scott to tie the game before fans even had a chance to settle into their seats.
Canada’s excitement quickly faded with Russia’s second goal just three minutes after they found the net the first time. Ivan Chekhovich would be the lucky player to give his team the lead, deflecting a shot from Danila Galeniuk between Scott’s five-hole for Russia’s first lead of the game.
Unfortunately for the visiting nation, Chekhovich’s goal was the final one for the defending champions. Instead, Tippett showed exactly why putting him on the starting line was the right idea, tying the game at two apiece just 26 seconds into the middle frame. Canada White would completely dominate the second period, with Gabe Vilardi scoring at the two-minute mark and Jaret Anderson-Dolan doubling up Canada’s lead with three minutes remaining in the second.
Tippett’s second goal of the game came on a power play, so, with the same situation arising in the third, coach Scott Walker had to put him on one more time. It took a little longer, but after three minutes in the third, Tippett completed the hat-trick on an Ian Mitchell one-timer, capitalizing on what would end up being one of the best games the young 16-year-old has had to date. With the game pretty much set, Matthew Struthers would score a shorthanded goal with eight minutes left in the game to help put an end to the victorious game, with Canada White holding on for the incredible 6-2 win to take the gold medal at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Dawson Creek, British Columbia.
It was a huge moment for Hockey Canada’s Under-17 hockey program, with the title being the first for a Canadian team since the old Team Ontario took home the gold in 2011. For Canada White, the team struggled at points throughout the tournament, winning just one of the three preliminary round games, with the same fate happening to their opponents from Russia.
Winning in the preliminary round didn’t prove to be the most beneficial at the end, with the 4-1 Canada Red team failing to score a goal in a 3-0 loss to the eventual bronze medalists from Sweden, who didn’t even win in the round robin. The Americans, on the other hand, couldn’t translate a perfect record during the preliminary round into medal success, instead finishing in sixth place despite having one of the strongest teams in the tournament.
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