O’ROURKE SCORES WINNER AGAIN AS BLACK EDGES U.S.
JASON LA ROSE
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Ryan O’Rourke (Pickering, Ont./Sault Ste. Marie, OHL) scored the game-winning goal for the second time in as many days, hammering in a slap shot with 91 seconds to go to give Canada Black a wild 5-4 win over the United States in the final prelim game for both Tuesday at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge.
Just 44 seconds after Eamon Powell had tied the game for the U.S., O’Rourke – who scored the OT winner against the Czech Republic on Monday – took a pass from Jamie Drysdale (Toronto, Ont./Erie, OHL) and unleashed a rocket from the top of the circles that beat American goaltender Drew Commesso on the blocker side.
The win moves Black a point ahead of Canada White for first place in Group A, although White will take on the Czechs in the group finale later in the day. Black is guaranteed to finish no lower than second place.
It was all U.S. in the first period, starting with a Tanner Latsch goal just 38 seconds after the puck dropped that quickly quieted the pro-Canadian crowd at Harbour Station.
Blake Biondi slipped a shot five-hole on Joe Vrbetic (Dunvegan, Ont./Powassan, NOJHL) for the 2-0 goal at 7:52, but the Canadian netminder settled in after that and finished the opening period with 14 saves to keep it a two-goal game.
Black flipped the script in the second period, turning a deficit into a lead in less than five minutes.
Kyle Crnkovic (Chestermere, Alta./Saskatoon, WHL) got the Canadians on the board, jumping on a turnover in the neutral zone and beating Commesso through the legs four minutes into the middle stanza.
Ozzy Wiesblatt (Calgary, Alta./Prince Albert, WHL) tied it at 7:29, potting his own rebound, and Quinton Byfield (Newmarket, Ont./Sudbury, OHL) went bar-down with a rocket of a wrist shot 1:08 after that to give Black its first lead.
Will Cuylle (Toronto, Ont./Windsor, OHL) added a fourth goal before the end of the period, racing onto a lead pass and blasting a slap shot past Commesso to send the Canadians to the dressing room up by a pair at 4-2.
But the Americans refused to go away, and Landon Slaggert redirected a one-handed pass from Biondi over the shoulder of Vrbetic to make it a one-goal game at 11:58 of the third period.
Powell snapped a shot past Vrbetic on the power play with 2:15 left to seemingly send the game to overtime, but the O’Rourke winner instead left the Americans with their first two-game losing streak in the preliminary round since 1997.