Previewing the Bronze and Gold Medal Games – Capital City Challenge

Day five of the Capital City Challenge provided undoubtedly the best hockey of the tournament so far with a pair of semi-final games with all four teams looking for a chance to compete for a gold medal wearing the red, white, and black of Team Canada. With everything on the line, fans at the Arena at TD Place were treated to a pair of closely contested games that decided the matchups for the bronze and gold medal games that will be played on Wednesday. Let’s take a peek at what we can expect when the puck drops on the final day of action.

Bronze Medal Game – Team White Vs. Canadian National Women’s Team

Both of the games being played on Wednesday are rematches from games played on the opening day of the tournament. The first game to be played, the bronze medal game, will feature Team White playing against the Canadian National Women’s Team, a game that Team White won 7-3 in their meeting in the preliminary round. Since then, however, things haven’t been great for either of them.

Between them, they had only one win at this tournament, and that came when they played against one another. The results haven’t been favorable for either team, but you would have to imagine that the National Women’s Team would be happier with their two results.

Canada Women's National Team Celebrates
Canada Women’s National Team Celebrates (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

In their semi-final game against Team Black, the Canadian National Women’s Team came close to stealing a win and playing in the gold medal game. After getting down 3-0 early in the game, the women rallied to score three unanswered goals and bring the game into the third period as a tie game. After killing off a penalty, Rebecca Johnston took off on a breakaway upon coming out of the penalty box and had the game on her stick. Joseph Costanzo (Niagara Ice Dogs) was up to the task and turned it aside, and the game was heading for overtime. They would lose the game, but the effort was commendable.

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“We were not happy with our first 10 minutes of the game. We were chasing from that point on, but ever since the world championship in August, there has been so much belief amongst our group even when we get behind a couple goals,” said Renata Fast. “We know if we stick to our game plan, play our way and focus on the things that make us successful, we can fight back. I think we proved that again today. We have done it in the past, and it shows a lot of resiliency and that we are able to stick to our plan and not get off course when things are not going our way.”

For Team White, this game will provide them with a chance to get back in the win collum after a couple of close battles with Team Red. Despite their tournament not going the way they hoped, there is still a good chance to come out of it with some hardware. They will need more good things from some of their star players, including Kalan Lind (Red Deer Rebels) and Tyler Peddle (Drummondville Voltigeurs).

Chris Barlas Team Canada
Chris Barlas, Team Canada (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

“I thought I competed hard, and I thought my linemates made a lot of good plays,” said Lind. “All over the ice, we had some good chemistry, and obviously Andrew [Cristall] made some great passes to me that I was able to bury in the net. I wanted to keep competing, throw my body around, and do everything I could to help the team. I blocked some shots in the third period and wanted to help us even up the game, but unfortunately, we did not get the result we wanted.”

There is a little momentum on the women’s side, but Team White should come into this game with some confidence knowing that they have been able to get the better of the women already in this tournament. It has all the makings of what should be an entertaining way to kick off the day, and it will be cool to see one of these teams have medals put around their necks when the game is over.

Gold Medal Game – Team Black Vs. Team Red

The gold medal game is set to feature the two teams that have proven to be the best in the tournament through the preliminary round and, of course, the semi-finals. Coming into this tournament, these are the two teams that I had anticipated we would see in this game, and it should come as no shock that they will meet again.

Team Red punched their ticket first by beating Team White in the semi-final in a game that they controlled and didn’t seem in danger of losing at any time. They have been incredibly successful when they have played their best hockey, especially when Riley Heidt is in the lineup. Along with Matthew Wood (Victoria Grizzlies) and Bradley Nadeau (Penticton Veed), they have been borderline unstoppable when it comes to creating offense.

Team Red Celebrates
Team Red Celebrates (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

“From day one, we have been talking about staying connected as a team,” said Heidt. “I thought we were great on the forecheck tonight, and we were responsible in the defensive zone, which helped us a lot. We played well as five-man units, got some good bounces, and scored a few good goals, and we competed hard right to the end of the game.”

On the other side of the ice, the intimidating offensive threats of Team Black look to take what I predicted would be theirs, a gold medal. They had a little bit of a scare against the women a couple of times, but their success against the other U17 teams in this tournament has been impressive. They have beaten Team Red and Team White twice already by a combined 10 goals in just two games, and with how well they have been playing, they will be incredibly tough to beat on Wednesday.

Their close game against the women was ended by Zach Benson (Winnipeg ICE) in overtime. It could have ended very differently for them had Johnston scored on her breakaway, but nevertheless, Benson was able to get it done when others couldn’t.

Zach Benson Team Canada
Zach Benson, Team Canada (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

“It was three-on-three hockey, and there was a lot of open ice,” said Benson. “It was a big faceoff win by [Calum] Ritchie, and then Tanner [Molendyk] made a great pass to Ritchie. Obviously, he made a great saucer pass to me, and I was able to find the back of the net on a great play all around.”

When they met in the preliminary round, Team Black crushed Team Red 7-2, but this time, the stakes have been raised and things could be a little different. How will Team Black bounce back after nearly losing to the women? How will Team Red look after being crushed by this very same team just days ago? We will find out soon.

Two Good Matchups

Both games on the final day of the Capital City Challenge promise to be good hockey games. The energized and uplifted women against a desperate Team White and the hungry underdog Team Red against the favorite Team Black. It’s all to play for, and all of these players want to take home the best medal possible. The competition will be great, and it will be a fantastic way to put a bow on this once-in-a-lifetime event.

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