October 20, 2017
by Robert Murray
The third day of action at the 2017 Western Hockey League Cup saw British Columbia continue to gain momentum as they recorded their first victory of the tournament while Alberta finished the round robin with a perfect 3-0 record.
Saskatchewan 0 at British Columbia 6
British Columbia continued to gain momentum at the 2017 WHL Cup Friday, scoring a 6-0 win over Saskatchewan.
Payton Mount (Seattle Thunderbirds), Jack Finley (Spokane Chiefs) and Justin Sourdif (Vancouver Giants) each had a pair of goals to help their province to a 1-1-0-1 record as they finished round-robin play at the Markin MacPhail Arena inside Winsport in Calgary, Alta.
British Columbia were on Saskatchewan from the opening puck drop. An early 2-on-1 chance for B.C. demanded the best out of Saskatchewan starting goaltender Ethan Hein (Swift Current Broncos), who kept his opponents off the board.
B.C. would find their way onto the scoreboard eventually though. A loose puck in the crease saw defenceman Alex Ozar (Saskatoon Blades) nearly deflect the puck in, but on the ensuing scramble, the puck crossed the goal line, with Mount eventually getting credit for his first of the tournament.
To Mount, the confidence of a win had the team on a high heading into an important semi-final Saturday.
“We wanted to get a win before the elimination round and just keep rolling,” Mount said. “It was huge for the boys to get some confidence.
“Coming off two losses, getting this big win is just going to help us hopefully keep going to that championship game on Sunday.”
Hein continued to make big save after big save as Saskatchewan ran into penalty trouble. Three penalties in a 6:46 span during the first yielded favourable chances for British Columbia to increase their lead, but Hein was equal to the task each time, turning aside 13 shots in the first alone.
Koen MacInnes (Saskatoon Blades) wasn’t tested much in the first, turning aside all six shots he faced, getting saved by his blue line at one point as Ethan Ernst (Kelowna Rockets) broke in on a short-handed breakaway, but was turned aside.
Saskatchewan’s penalty trouble eventually caught up with them in the second period. After Finley tallied his first of the tournament 5:42 into the period off a pass out front into the slot, he added to his province’s lead six minutes later.
Eight seconds into British Columbia’s sixth power play of the game, they finally converted, with Finley tipping his second goal of the game past Hein to increase the lead to 3-0.
“I think the boys were upset after the first two games,” Finley, the Kelowna, B.C. product, said. “We had some momentum in the start and we found the back of the net and had a consistent 60 minutes.”
Not wanting to let Saskatchewan back into the game, B.C. stepped up the pressure in the third.
Mount added his second of the game right off a face-off, with Tyler Horstmann (Edmonton Oil Kings) getting credit for his second assist of the tournament.
Saskatchewan stepped up the pressure on MacInnes, even firing a shot that caught him up high on the right shoulder area that seemed to catch the B.C. net minder off-guard, but it kept the puck out.
Sourdif, the Surrey, B.C. product, added to his province’s lead in the third period with his first of the game, firing off a shot as he was hauled down in the slot past Hein for his team’s fifth goal of the day.
Rounding out the scoring exactly four minutes later taking control of the puck on his half of the ice, bringing it over centre ice and the blue line before pulling it back and wiring the puck into the back of the net.
MacInnes would finish with 18 saves in the game while Hein made 25 in his 2017 WHL Cup debut.
Cameron MacDonald (Brandon Wheat Kings), Ryan Helliwell (Portland Winterhawks), Aidan De La Gorgendiere (Saskatoon Blades) and Ethan Brandwood (Kamloops Blazers) all picked up helpers in the victory.