YOUNG NATIONALS TOP GRENADIERS, CLINCH SEMIFINAL SPOT
MOOSE JAW, Sask. – Steven Harland scored the game-winner late in the second period, helping the Toronto Young Nationals to their third win in a row at the 2014 TELUS Cup, 3-1 over the Grenadiers de Châteauguay on Thursday afternoon.
The victory leaves Toronto (3-1-0) alone in top spot for the time being, and clinches a spot in Saturday’s semifinals.
Jeremy Pullara and Noah Gurr had the other goals for Toronto.
Justin Samson scored the lone goal for Châteauguay (1-1-2), which missed an opportunity to wrap up a weekend berth of its own.
The teams failed to record a goal in the opening 20 minutes, despite a power play opportunity each. Toronto finished the first period with a 14-8 advantage in shots on goal.
Châteauguay found itself in penalty trouble in period No. 2, and the Young Nationals would capitalize just past the midway mark of the middle frame; Pullara scooped up a loose puck after an Adam DeLuca shot hit traffic in front, spun and snuck a shot under the arm of Grenadiers goaltender Étienne Montpetit.
Toronto would double its lead with 3:59 left in the second.
Max Routledge won a puck battle along the boards before dishing to Louis Di Matteo, whose wrist shot was tipped by Harland for the 2-0 goal.
Down two entering the third period, and outshot 26-16, Châteauguay cut the lead in half at 6:35; after Mikael Sabourin poke-checked a Toronto defenceman, goaltender Oliver Jacobs tried to cover the puck, only to have it squirt free and onto the stick of Samson, who tapped it in to make it 2-1.
But that would be as close as the Grenadiers would get, despite outshooting Toronto 8-7 in the third period.
Gurr hit the empty net from his own zone with exactly a minute to go, putting the final nail in the Châteauguay coffin and providing the final margin of victory.
The Young Nationals will look to solidify their spot atop the standings when they face the Okanagan Rockets in Friday’s first game (9:30 a.m. MT), while the Grenadiers meet the host Moose Jaw Generals in the preliminary round finale (4:30 p.m. MT).