Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Team West finishes out of medals again

Want to finish on winning note

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For the fifth year in a row at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, Team West finds itself out of the medal picture.

Three days into the event, being played in Drummondville and Victoriaville, Que., Team West is 0-3.

It has been not good enough for long enough, head coach Don MacGillivray said Tuesday night from Drummondville.

Only one pool game remains, tonight in Victoriaville against Team Pacific, then a placement game awaits on Thursday.

"Two games left and I want to try to end this tournament on a positive note, regardless of where we finish, so that we can feel we put our best foot forward," said MacGillivray, who also serves as head coach of the MJHL's Winnipeg Blues. "We'll need something good to happen early so that we feel like we're going to be OK.

"The fact we're going to be against some players that are teammates of some of our players, their pride will be in play. (Team Pacific) will play a similar style to us. I don't think we'll have any trouble getting up to play the game."

MacGillivray said it will be the mental will more than the talent that will dictate his team's finish.

"Everybody came here with hopes and dreams of being a team that could compete, and we have been competitive, but when you're going into those games and something bad happens, that's got to change, that mindset's got to change," he said. "It's been a challenge. We're trying to stay together as a team."

MacGillivray's charges, a combination of players from Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 15 of whom are from WHL teams, got off to a mediocre start to the 10-team tournament on Saturday, dropping a 4-0 decision to Sweden.

The Swedes are in the medal round with a 4-0 record.

On Sunday, Team West dropped a 6-2 game to Russia, then lost on Monday, 6-4, against the Finns.

Kolten Olynek and Vukie Mpofu, both of Saskatoon, scored early in the third period to turn a one-goal deficit into a one-goal lead before the Finns mounted a comeback.

Olynek scored twice while Winnipegger Adam Brooks (Regina, WHL) also scored for Team West, which got two assists each from Ryan Pilon (Duck Lake, Sask./Lethbridge, WHL) and Wawanesa's Jordan Thomson (Kamloops, WHL).

"We've been in every game," MacGillivray said. "That's one thing. We knew when we started we'd pretty much have to be perfect to have a chance to win games against some of these teams.

"It started off with us not playing our best game against Sweden. They've certainly gotten better as the tournament has gone on and we've gotten better, too.

"We improved in our (second game) against Russia but we were having trouble scoring on the power play and we couldn't stay out of the box. And that made it real difficult against a good team."

Penalties were a momentum factor against Finland.

After Team West forged ahead 4-3 in the third period, a two-man-advantage goal for the Finns turned out to be the winner with seven minutes left.

Better team

"I thought we were the better team against the Finns," MacGillivray said. "We took control of the game early in the third, outplayed them badly and they scored to make it 4-4.

"Then we took a penalty and one of their guys got hurt. I say it was a clean hit but there was a major delay and we got a penalty, then another one the next shift and we're down five-on-three."

Team West outshot Finland 37-31 in that game, including 22-11 in the third period.

"We showed a lot of character after having given up a late goal in the second period (with five seconds left)," MacGillivray said. "But we scored early and then we took the lead.

"We definitely emptied the tank, but we found a way not to get a win and that was the really frustrating part. We did OK, but just not good enough.

"Every game we've had a couple of guys take two and 10. That makes it difficult to get the continuity you need and when you're killing penalties, it taxes your bench.

"It's been disappointing that way."


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 2, 2013 D2

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