BLACKER GETS OT WINNER, CANADA WINS SOCHI OPENER
JASON LA ROSE
SOCHI, Russia – Jesse Blacker (Toronto, Ont./Kunlun Red Star, KHL) scored 1:36 into overtime, sending Canada’s National Men’s Team to a 1-0 win over HC Sochi on Sunday in its curtain-raiser at the 2017 Sochi Hockey Open.
Off a won face-off in the offensive zone the puck made its way from Justin Azevedo (West Lorne, Ont./Ak Bars Kazan, KHL) to Blacker, whose shot hit a Sochi stick and beat goaltender Konstantin Barulin under the crossbar for the game-winner.
Justin Peters (Blythe, Ont./Dinamo Riga, KHL) earned the 23-save shutout in the Canadian goal, backstopping the penalty-kill unit to a perfect seven-for-seven performance.
The teams traded chances in the first period, with the best Canadian opportunity coming off the stick of Bud Holloway (Wapella, Sask./Skellefteå AIK, SHL); he corralled a puck off the end-boards, but fired his shot into the side of the net.
Canada was unlucky not to open the scoring early in the second. Mason Raymond (Cochrane, Alta./SC Bern, NLA) hit a pair of posts and Brandon Kozun (Calgary, Alta./Lokomotiv Yaroslavl, KHL) was denied by the glove of Barulin on a penalty shot, all within the first five minutes of the middle frame.
Eric O’Dell (Ottawa, Ont./HC Sochi, KHL) added a third Canadian post later in the period, and the game went to the second intermission scoreless.
It was more of the same in the third period with the Canadians killing off two more Sochi power plays, although the tournament hosts never seemed to really test Peters.
Canada controlled the puck for almost all of overtime, leading up to the Blacker winner.
A spot in the championship game will be on the line Monday when Canada takes on Russia in its second and final preliminary round game (12:30 p.m. ET/9:30 a.m. PT).