In a rematch of the 2015 Canada Winter Games gold medal game, Ontario pulled out another win.
Ontario beat Team Alberta 3-1 four years ago and this time around in the semifinal, Alberta was unable to exact any revenge.
At the Centrium Thursday, Ontario scored on the first shot of the night and topped Alberta 8-4 to advance to the male hockey final at the 2019 Canada Winter Games. They will play Québec in the gold medal game Friday.
“These guys weren’t there four years ago, so they’re making their own way through. Four years ago our team was really different,” said Team Ontario head coach Jeff Jordan.
“Really sound and defensively structured. Had a good power play. But these guys get to carve their own path. I’m sure (Friday) will be filled with more penalties and defensive turnovers, but it should hopefully be an exciting game.”
Alberta fell behind 6-0 after 40 minutes but scored four times in less than 10 minutes in the third period to get back in the game. They failed to rally all the way back despite some good fan support after an Ontario power play goal followed a shorthanded tally.
“Tale of our team, we haven’t put a full 60 minutes together yet. It’s a hard lesson, we don’t get to play for a gold medal, but we have a great opportunity ahead of us and we’re going to go after it,” said Team Alberta head coach Bobby Fox.
Ontario’s Mason McTavish beat Drew Sim blocker side 81 seconds into the game on a breakaway on the first shot of the contest. Sim denied Francesco Pinelli a short time later and held the fort for much of the first.
On the power play with just under two under two minutes left in the period, Brandt Clarke ripped a shot off the crossbar and in for Team Ontario.
“Definitely got our legs going, early goals help and they definitely made a difference in this game,” said Ontario captain Shane Wright, who had three assists in the win.
The visitors scored four times in the second to pull away. In less than three minutes in the second, Brennan Othmann scored twice and Connor Lockhart also found the mark to give Ontario a big cushion after 40 minutes.
“The guys bought into the gameplan and went out and executed on it. They played for each other and they played to win,” Jordan said.
“First two periods were exceptional, the third period, not so much.”
Alberta still showed a no-quit attitude in the third with four goals in the first 10 minutes. They scored three times on the power play in the first six minutes of the frame to mount a small comeback, with goals from Zack Ostapchuk, Colton Dach and Matt Savoie.
“It has to come from within the room, as staff we challenged them. Good on them, they didn’t quit and it was a little too late. It’s a positive moving forward,” said Fox.
Ontario squashed any hope of a complete comeback with a power-play goal from Liam Arnsby before he iced the game on a shorthanded breakaway two minutes later.
Red Deer Rebels prospect Kyle Masters had three assists for Alberta.
In the other semi, Québec knocked off Saskatchewan 6-3.
Saskatchewan had a 2-0 lead after 20 minutes, with a goal from Ashton Ferster 25 seconds in and a shorthanded tally by Blake Swetiloff midway through the period.
Québec stormed back in the second, with three goals in just over four minutes early in the period. Nathan Gaucher, Zachary L’Heureux and Olivier Nadeau had the goals. Dovar Tinling added a power-play goal with just 2:02 left in the frame.
Justin Robidas made it 5-2 Québec before Cole Sillinger cut the deficit for Saskatchewan. Nadeau added his second of the day into the empty net to close out the scoring.
Alberta will play Saskatchewan for bronze Friday at 4 p.m. at the Centrium.