by David Brien
RIVIÈRE-DU-LOUP, Que. – Nolan Regan broke a 1-1 tie seven minutes into the third period, and the Toronto Young Nationals booked their spot in the gold medal game at the 2015 TELUS Cup with a 3-1 semifinal win over the Regina Pat Canadians on Saturday.
Toronto handed Regina its first loss of the week, and became the fourth No. 4 seed in the past six years to beat the top-ranked team from the preliminary round in the semifinals.
Ryan Bonsteel and Jordan Sambrook had the other goals for the Young Nationals, who avenged a 7-2 round-robin loss to the Pat Canadians, and earned a semifinal win after losing at the same stage of Canada’s National Midget Championship one year ago.
Riley Woods had the lone goal for Regina, which came up two wins short in its quest to become the first team to ever win five national titles.
The Pat Canadians’ tournament-leading power play struck first; Woods finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play from TELUS Cup MVP Owen Sillinger and Arthur Miller to get Regina on the board at 3:50 of the first period.
Toronto tied the game a little more than six minutes later when Sambrook’s slap shot deflected off a Regina defenceman and beat Pat Canadians goaltender Clarke Flegel to make it 1-1.
The first period was played at a brisk pace, with the 20 minutes of action taking just 25 minutes of real time.
The intensity carried over to a scoreless second period, setting up the decisive final frame.
Regina was the tournament’s best third-period team, scoring 10 goals in its five games, but it was the Young Nationals who found the back of the net twice in the last 20 minutes.
First it was Regan at 6:56; a hard forecheck by Dean Rayner caused a turnover behind the Pat Canadians’ goal, the puck found its way to Regan and he beat Flegel to the blocker side to give Toronto its first lead.
Bonsteel added the insurance just 3:03 later, squeezing a shot along the ice and through Flegel’s five-hole.
Regina finished with a 24-19 advantage in shots on goal.
The Young Nationals will await the winner of the Chateauguay-Strathmore semifinal in Sunday’s gold medal game (4 p.m. ET, TSN2), while the Pat Canadians will have to settle for a shot at the bronze medal against the Grenadiers-Bisons loser (noon ET).
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