Brett Connolly has been doing a lot more than just suit up for Team Canada at the World Under-18 Hockey Championship.
On Monday, the Prince George Cougars forward was the overtime hero, scoring 1:23 into the extra session to cap off a come-from-behind 4-3 triumph over the Czech Republic. With the victory, the Canadians earned a berth in the playoff round of the 10-team competition.
Team Canada entered its final preliminary round game on Tuesday against Sweden with an opportunity to improve its undefeated record to 4-0, which would’ve secured them a first-round playoff bye. Sweden also sported a 3-0 record going into the game, but led Canada by one in the points standings by earning the full nine points for winning all three of its games in regulation time. Since it took overtime for the Canadians to defeat the Czechs, they took home two points to improve their total to eight.
The Canadian squad opened its schedule with an 11-2 victory over Germany last Thursday. They downed Switzerland 8-1 on Saturday.
Against the Czech Republic on Monday, the Canadians entered the third period in a 0-3 deficit. They stormed back early in the third period, with three goals only three minutes and two seconds apart. Ten seconds after John McFarland scored Canada’s first goal at the 2:06 mark, Ryan O’Reilly got the team within one. Erik Gudbranson tied the game 3-3 5:08 into the frame, a goal that was assisted by Connolly.
The playoff round is scheduled to get underway on Thursday. The championship game of the tournament is taking place on Sunday.
The month began with excitement for former Prince George Spruce Kings goalie Brad Thiessen, as he signed a professional contract with the National Hockey League’s Pittsburgh Penguins on April 3.
The 23-year-old Aldergrove native wasn’t able to follow up that feat with a significant award, as Matt Gilroy was named the 2009 winner of the Hobey Baker Award, presented to the top men’s ice hockey player in the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association).
Thiessen was named a finalist for the award for his efforts stopping pucks for the Northeastern Huskies this past season. He finished the 2008-09 campaign with a 2.12 goals against average and .931 save percentage. He was named the Hockey East Player of the Month in October and Goalie of the Month in November and January.
A journalism major, he was named to the Hockey East All Rookie team as a freshman.
In addition to securing a pro contract, Thiessen accepted a roster spot with the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League.
The Vernon Vipers won the Fred Page Cup as 2009 B.C. Hockey League champions.
A week ago in Vernon, the Vipers edged the Powell River Kings in a 3-2 triple-overtime thriller. With the victory, the Vipers defeated the Kings four games to two in the best-of-seven league championship series. En route to the final, Vernon defeated the Penticton Vees 4-1 and Salmon Arm SilverBacks 4-2 in Interior Conference best-of-seven sets.
Champions of the Coastal Conference, the Kings knocked off the Surrey Eagles 4-1 and Victoria Grizzlies 4-3 to advance to the Fred Page Cup final.
With the BCHL title, the Vipers advance to the 2009 Doyle Cup championship series against the Alberta Junior Hockey League champions, the Grande Prairie Storm. The Storm captured the Enerflex Cup title as AJHL champions with a 4-0 series sweep over the Spruce Grove Saints in the league final. They advanced to the series with the Saints by eliminating the Lloydminster Bobcats (3-1), Sherwood Park Crusaders (4-2) and Brooks Bandits (4-1).
The best-of-seven Doyle Cup series gets underway on Friday in Vernon. The Vipers play host to Game 2 on Saturday.
If the first two games of the series are split, than the Vipers host Game 3 before the series shifts to Grande Prairie for the remaining games. Otherwise, Game 3 and the rest of the series will be held in Grande Prairie.
The Doyle Cup champion advances to the 2009 RBC Royal Bank Cup national junior A hockey championship in Victoria. As the host team, the Grizzlies receive an automatic berth into the five-team competition.
The third round of the Western Hockey League playoffs gets underway this weekend.
A schedule for the Eastern Conference championship best-of-seven series between the Calgary Hitmen and Brandon Wheat Kings has been released.
The series gets underway on Friday, with Game 1 in Calgary. The second game is slated for Sunday in Calgary. The series reverts to Brandon for the third and fourth games next Tuesday and Wednesday.
In the Western Conference, the Kelowna Rockets’ third round opponent wasn’t determined as of Monday. With the series tied 3-3, the seventh and deciding game of the second-round set between the Vancouver Giants and Spokane Chiefs was held on Tuesday in Vancouver.
The Rockets advanced to the Western Conference final with a 4-2 series victory over the Tri-City Americans. They wrapped up that set with a 6-2 triumph over the Americans on Sunday.
Kenny Lally and Jag Seehra are scheduled to step back into the boxing ring this Thursday.
The two members of the Inner City Boxing Club were on the card for a dinner show in Portland. It’d be their first boxing event since they failed to meet their respective weight requirements at the box-offs for the Canadian senior team in Edmonton a month and a half ago.