Recently, PEI has been in the spotlight for both national and international events.
Last year, the Island hosted the Canada Winter Games, the largest national sporting event in the country. This year, our two cities, Charlottetown and Summerside, were chosen to host the Under-17 International Hockey Championship, welcoming hockey players from Canada, the United States, Czechia, Sweden, and Finland.
For this championship, Canada was divided into two teams, Canada Red and Canada White, to balance the skill level and even out the number of teams for a properly structured championship tournament.
The opening of the game. Photo by Devon Thistle
I had the pleasure of attending one of the games at Charlottetown’s Eastlink Center, between two age-old rivals, Canada Red and the USA. What made this game extra special was the fact that the Eastlink Centre was sold out, which always makes for an especially spirited crowd. I didn’t know, however, how exciting this game would be and was in for quite a surprise.
Before Team Canada could even establish themselves on the ice, the Americans struck, shooting the puck into the back of Canada’s net in the first 15 seconds of the game. This put Team Canada on the backfoot from the very beginning. Sadly, before Canada could respond with a goal of their own, a tap-in off the skate of a Canadian player tilted the ice even more in favor of the Americans, making the score at the end of the first period 2-0 USA.
As soon as the second period started, Canada dominated the ice. While no scoring chances came about for the majority of the second period, Canada responded with 5 minutes left in the second, cutting the lead in half.
Then, with one minute left on the scoreboard in the second, Canada scored once again, allowing Team Canada to enter the third period without a lead by the USA. The crowd, feeling defeated by the 2-goal lead just moments ago, was starting to come alive once again.
The third period was a whirlwind for both teams on the ice. With 18:28 left on the clock, Canada scored an early-period goal, giving them the first lead of the game. Sadly, this was short-lived, as 15 seconds after the Canadian goal, the American team responded with a goal of their own. It was clear to both teams and the crowd at the Eastlink Center that this game could go either way.
Both teams continued to battle through the third period but were held at bay by the goaltenders, each making their fair share of miraculous saves. This meant that the fate of the game would be decided in a 3 on 3, 5-minute period of overtime.
As overtime raged on, both teams found themselves in equal possession of the puck, going back and forth across the ice, each side just needing one slip-up by the other’s goalie to win the game. Finally, with 42 seconds left in overtime, and everyone in the crowd getting ready for the final stage of a tied game — a shootout, a miracle happened. McKenna, a player from the WHL Team in Medicine Hat, Alberta, was given the chance to complete the turnaround for Team Canada, and he took it, shooting a rebounded puck into the twine of the back of the net, securing the game for Team Canada.
The team huddling together after McKenna scored the winning goal in overtime. Photo by Devon Thistle
The nail-biter for both teams and the crowd of a sold-out Eastlink Center ended with a Canadian victory on Canadian soil. For Team Canada Red, this was one win closer to their hopes of making the gold medal game and winning it all on their home turf.
By: Devon Thistle, Managing Editor