The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge wrapped up this evening in Winnipeg, Manitoba, and there was a ton of sensational hockey seen this week at the tournament. Goals, saves, hits, and drama were all part of the action over the last couple of weeks, and one team reigned supreme as Team Ontario downed Team USA at MTS Centre last night by a 5-3 score. The final was a great battle that saw Ontario jump out a lead and not look back, but the Americans made it interesting before an incredible penalty shot goal sealed the deal for Ontario.
First, we'll go to the goal. Mathew Campagna scored a goal that many Winnipeg Jets fans remember as "the Zhamnov". Of course, most people will associate it with Peter Forsberg, and that's fine too. There were probably players who pulled off this move many times before those two men began using it in the NHL. But Mathew Campagna of the OHL's Sudbury Wolves shows a whole lot of moxie on this penalty shot late in the third period of the gold medal game.
Secondly, the win by Ontario in a rematch of last year's finalists prevented the Americans from winning their second consecutive gold medal at the World U-17 Championships. Ontario went undefeated through the tournament, and was led by Sean Monahan of the Ottawa 67's. Monahan had two goals against the Americans, and also scored both goals in Team Ontario's 2-1 win over Team Quebec in the semi-final.
Thirdly, huge kudos go out to the 12,060 fans who saw the game at MTS Centre tonight as a new record was set for the gold medal game. This was a definite increase from the old record of 8,896 set at the 2008 World U-17 Challenge in London, Ontario. Winnipeg always seems to support Hockey Canada's endeavours, and this tournament saw Manitobans and Canadians come out in droves to support all of the Canadian teams in this tournament. Well done, Canada and Manitoba!
Most of these young men from across the eight teams will find themselves playing against each other at a higher level soon enough. Canada routinely has these players vying for World Junior Championship roster spots and World U-18 Championship roster spots. And, of course, some of the very good players will find themselves in the NHL one day.
Before that happens, these kids get to play some more hockey. They'll go back to their respective leagues and work towards an ultimate goal. However, Team Ontario can proudly display their gold medals as champions of the World U-17 Hockey Challenge!
Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!