Team West played spoiler in their final round robin game at the World Under 17 Hockey Challenge. In a battle between fellow Moose Jaw Warriors, Team West was able to push Team Pacific to overtime and knock them out of medal contention on Wednesday evening in Quebec.
Pacific eventually won the game 4-3 in overtime, but they needed a regulation win in order to keep their hopes alive for a medal.
“I think our guys played hard. They came back and tied the game. Their goal was to knock Pacific out and as soon as they got that task done, they seemed to just let up in overtime,” said head scout for Team West, Rob Maclachlan.
West got on the board just 55 seconds into the game from Kolten Olynek, but Pacific knotted the game at one late in the opening frame from Josh Thrower on the power play.
Warrior forward Brayden Point gave Pacific the lead on the man advantage in the second period, but fellow Warrior, Miles Warkentine tied up the game again at the 16-minute mark.
Tanner MacMaster put Team Pacific ahead early in the third period, but late game heroics by Reid Gardiner with just over three minutes left to go tied the teams at three.
Brandon Hickey scored 45 seconds in the overtime period to secure the win for Pacific.
“Our guys played hard and we have a lot fewer kids to pick from for Team West. I thought the first couple of games we played were tentative and weren’t sure what to expect, but as the tournament went on, they played stronger and harder,” explained Maclachlan. “I give the kids credit, they played very well in the end.”
Moose Jaw Generals forward Rhett Gardner received the player of the game award for Team West and Thrower won it for Pacific.
“Rhett Gardner played unbelievable throughout the tournament. He was one of our best players,” he said. “For me, there was never any question that Rhett was going to be one of our top six guys. He is having a great year with the Generals and he is getting better. Every time I watch him play, he gets better…he is big, strong, he can skate, he’s got skill and he is smart with the puck and has hockey sense.”
Maclachan, also assistant general manager and head scout for the Warriors was able to watch Point, Warkentine and Josh Uhrich in action without the tournament. Although Uhrich was suspended for Wednesday’s game, he was impressed with how all three played.
“Miles played very well and had a really good game. So did Brayden…he had a couple chances late on the power play, but just couldn’t put it in the net. All three of our guys played well,” he stated.
For more on this story, read an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald.