WHITE USES BIG SECOND PERIOD TO FINISH PERFECT PRELIMS
JASON LA ROSE
SAINT JOHN, N.B. – Connor McClennon (Wainwright, Alta./Kootenay, WHL) scored two more goals and Tristan Lennox (Cambridge, Ont./Brantford, OJHL) came within 65 seconds of a shutout as Canada White capped off an unbeaten preliminary round at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with a 5-1 win over the Czech Republic on Tuesday night.
McClennon scored six of the team’s 15 goals in the round robin, and added three assists for a tournament-leading nine points for White, which will take on Finland in a Thursday afternoon quarter-final at Harbour Station (3:30 p.m. AT).
Lennox wasn’t beaten until the final shot he faced with just over a minute left, finishing with 24 saves.
Both teams struggled to find their offensive footing early, combining for just 11 shots in the first period. But Dylan Robinson (Pickering, Ont./Oshawa, OHL) made good on one of the few opportunities for White, spinning in the slot and beating goaltender Jan Bednar past the glove at 11:27.
The Canadians came to life in the second period and not surprisingly it was McClennon leading the way.
After Charlie DesRoches (Days Corner, P.E.I./Saint John, QMJHL) finished a feed from Cole Perfetti (Whitby, Ont./Saginaw, OHL) just 54 seconds into the middle frame, McClennon blasted home a power-play goal at 2:12 to add a little more insurance.
Jérémie Poirier (Salabarry-de-Valleyfield, Que./Saint John, QMJHL) made it 4-0 just shy of the six-minute mark, walking in and hammering in a low slap shot to chase Bednar, who allowed four goals on 10 shots in just 26 minutes of work before giving way to Nick Malik.
McClennon welcomed Malik with arguably the goal of the tournament thus far, toe-dragging his way around a sprawled-out Czech defender before roofing a shot over the glove to push the advantage to 5-0 after 40 minutes.
Jan Cikhart spoiled the shutout for Lennox with a late goal, tipping in a Pavel Novak shot.
Canada White finished with 15 goals in three preliminary-round games, tied for the third most by a single team since the tournament went to the current eight-team format in 2014.
The Czechs, who finished at the bottom of Group A, will travel to Quispamsis to take on Russia in the first quarter-final Thursday at the qplex (3:30 p.m. AT).