NIELSEN'S HAT TRICK HELPS WHITE BEAT BLACK AT U17 CHALLENGE
JASON LA ROSE
SAULT STE. MARIE, Ont. – Tristen Nielsen (Fort St. John, B.C./Calgary, WHL) had a hat trick – scoring once in each period – to lead Canada White to a 4-1 win over Canada Black in the tournament opener for both Sunday at the 2016 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
White remained unbeaten in three all-time preliminary-round meetings with its Canadian counterparts; it earned a 5-4 overtime win in 2014 before a 5-3 victory last year en route to a gold medal.
Raphaël Lavoie (Chambly, Que./Collège Antoine-Girouard, LHMAAAQ) finished the scoring into an empty net in the dying seconds for Canada White, which got 32 saves from Olivier Rodrigue (Chicoutimi, Que./Drummondville, QMJHL).
Nielsen wasted no time giving White an early lead, stepping around a Black defenceman before wiring a wrist shot over the glove of goaltender Jacob Ingham (Barrie, Ont./Mississauga, OHL) just 3:29 in.
Neither team generated much offence in the second period, combining for just 13 shots on goal, but Nielsen doubled the advantage just before the midway mark of the middle frame, jamming in a bouncing puck after Akil Thomas (Toronto, Ont./Niagara, OHL) had thrown a backhand on net.
Black picked up its game in the third, outshooting White 15-7, but it could only put one puck behind Rodrigue; with a power play coming to an end, Owen Lalonde (Riverside, Ont./Sudbury, OHL) jumped off the bench and into the play, took a pass from Calen Addison (Brandon, Man./Lethbridge, WHL) and quickly beat the White netminder upstairs to make it a 2-1 game.
But Nielsen needed just 2:09 to complete his hat trick and restore the two-goal advantage, hammering a one-timer from just inside the blue-line past Ingham.
Lavoie was the only other White skater to record multiple points; he helped set up Nielsen’s first goal, in addition to his empty-net goal with just seven ticks to go.
Canada White faces a tough test Monday, meeting the United States (4 p.m. ET), while Canada Black is right back to action with a Halloween matinee against the Czech Republic (12 p.m. ET).