The Western Canada U16 Challenge Cup was recently renamed the WHL Cup prior to this year’s showdown featuring the best U16 hockey players in Western Canada.
When they renamed it, maybe they should have considered calling it the Team Alberta Cup.
In the tournament’s brief history, Team Alberta has dominated the competition. In five of the six tournaments, Team Alberta claimed the title.
On Sunday, Team B.C. was able to wrestle away the spotlight by winning the 2017 WHL Cup. It was the first time that Team B.C. has been crowned champions since 2012.
Team Manitoba defeated Team Saskatchewan for the bronze medal earlier in the day.
It was a tightly contested matchup between Team Alberta and Team B.C., and one that seemingly was leading to another title for our neighbours to the east.
On home ice at Winsport arena in Calgary, Team Alberta jumped out to a 1-0 lead after one period. Connor McClennon gave the home team a 2-0 lead, and Alberta was that much closer to claiming another title.
That was before some talent from Surrey got Team B.C. back in the game.
Surrey’s Justin Sourdif got his team on the board with his third goal of the tournament. It was a power play goal assisted by his Valley West Hawks teammate, Cameron MacDonald.
After Tyson Phare tied it up before the second intermission, Delta’s Ryan Watson scored 20 seconds into the third to give Team B.C. a 3-2 lead. They weren’t quite able to hold off with McClennon scoring his second goal of the game for Team Alberta with less than two minutes to play.
His goal sent the game to overtime. Just 2:37 into the extra frame, Watson fed Ben King the puck, and his point shot beat Team Alberta goalie Sebastian Cossa to give Team B.C. the 4-3 victory.
— The WHL (@TheWHL) October 22, 2017
Team B.C. reversed their fortunes after a tough start to the tournament. They lost the opening game to Team Manitoba 3-2 in a shootout. Team Alberta also had their way with them in the first matchup between the two teams, beating Team B.C. 6-2.
Offence was a story for Team Alberta all tournament long. They scored 18 goals in the first three games before facing Team B.C. on Sunday. Their top three forwards, Kyle Crnkovic, McClennon, Kaiden Guhle finished the tournament with a combined 25 points, including six against Team B.C. in the gold medal game.
Sourdif might not walk away with the scoring title for the tournament, but he’s a big reason why his team is going home with a gold medal.
His three goals in the tournament led Team B.C., and it was his power play goal on Sunday that got his team back in the game. MacDonald also had three assists in the tournament.
Delta’s Ryan Watson was also a major contributor for Team B.C. The young defenceman had the go-ahead goal in the third period, along with the primary assist on the overtime winner. His four points was best among all players on Team B.C.