Conner Bleackley (High River, AB/Red Deer, WHL) scored the game-winning goal with 1:31 to go as Pacific took fifth place at the 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a back-and-forth 7-6 win over Ontario on Thursday afternoon.
It’s the second consecutive year Pacific has finished fifth and third time in the last four World Under-17 Hockey Challenges.
The teams traded six goals in the first period, with Pacific cancelling out a trio of one-goal leads for Ontario, before Pacific took three leads of its own, only to see Ontario come back and tie the game on Watson’s goal early in the third period, setting up Bleackley’s winner.
Tanner MacMaster (Calgary, AB/Camrose, AJHL) scored twice to lead the offence for Pacific, while Ryan Graham (Calgary, AB/Saskatoon, WHL), Ryan Gropp (Kamloops, BC/Penticton, BCHL), Brycen Martin (Calgary, AB/Swift Current, WHL) and Jake Virtanen (Abbotsford, BC/Calgary, WHL) added singles.
Martin and Virtanen had a goal and an assist each, while captain Joe Hicketts (Kamloops, BC/Victoria, WHL) had three helpers.
It’s the first time Pacific has beaten Ontario since a 9-1 victory in the semifinals at the 2005 tournament in Lethbridge, AB, a span of six games.
Team Pacific finished the round robin with a 3-1 record defeating Team Russia (8-7) in a shootout, then lost to Sweden (6-3). Pacific then beat Finland (5-4) in a shootout and Team West (4-3) in overtime.
The 2013 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge brings together the top players in the world born in 1996 or later. The tournament is made up of 10 teams; five (5) from Canada - Quebec, Ontario, Pacific (Alberta, British Columbia, Northwest Territories, Yukon), Atlantic (New Brunswick, Newfoundland and Labrador, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island) and West (Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Nunavut), and five (5) International teams - Germany, Sweden, Russia, Czech Republic and the United States.
Team Pacific is comprised of 11 players from BC and 11 players from Alberta. Hockey Alberta and BC Hockey each identified 34 U17 male athletes (4 G, 12 D, 18 F) from their respective provincial evaluation camps to participate in the joint regional camp in July, 2012. From the regional camp, these players were evaluated during the first part of their club’s team season by the Team Pacific evaluators.
At the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge in Windsor, Ontario, Team Pacific finished in fifth place after defeating Quebec five (5) to four (4) in overtime.
Team Pacific has included some of the top hockey players that Canada has ever produced. Some notable graduates who have competed on Team Pacific include:
- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 2010
- Evander Kane, 2008
- Brent Seabrook, 2002
- Dion Phaneuf, 2002
- Mike Green, 2002
- Jarome Iginla, 1994
- Joe Sakic, 1986
The Under-17 program is the first stop in Hockey Canada’s Program of Excellence. Many players who compete at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge go on to represent Canada with the National Men’s Under-18 Team, National Junior Team and National Men’s Team.