Ontario wins Winter Games hockey gold
Steven Stamkos had a goal and assisted on Michael Del Zotto's game-winner midway through the second period as Ontario downed Manitoba 6-4 to win the gold medal at the Canada Games men's hockey tournament.
Stamkos, a standout with the OHL's Sarnia Sting, finished with a goal and two assists, giving him a team-leading 15 points (11-4) for the tournament as Ontario picked up its first Canada Games gold since 1991.
Cody Hodgson of the OHL's Brampton Battalion, Nazem Kadri of the Kitchener Rangers, Nathan Moon of the Kingston Frontenacs and Stefan Della Rovere of the Barrie Colts also scored for Ontario, which finished the event undefeated.
David Toews, of midget-AAA Shattuck St. Mary's, had two goals for Manitoba, which posted its best-ever result at a Canada Games. Shayne Wiebe of the midget-AAA Brandon Wheat Kings and Tyler Schmidt of the WHL's Tri-City Americans had the others.
In the bronze-medal game, Jordan Eberle scored twice and added an assist and Alberta rode three power-play goals to a 4-3 win over B.C.
Leading 5-4 after a wild 40 minutes, Ontario switched into defensive mode in the third, stifling Manitoba's forwards at every opportunity. Ontario put the game away midway through the period when Della Rovere pounced on a loose puck that had trickled between the pads of Manitoba backup netminder Kyle Birch.
While Ontario came into the gold-medal final as the heavy favourite, Manitoba was the decisive choice among the nearly 2,000 fans at Takhini Arena. A large throng of Manitoba supporters rocked the stands, chanting "Toba! Toba!" at every opportunity.
Ontario secured a 3-2 lead after an entertaining first. Hodgson opened the scoring 18 seconds in, breaking in untouched from 40 feet and beating Manitoba netminder Mark Friesen low to the glove side. Kadri gave Ontario a 2-0 lead 31/2 minutes later, and it looked like the rout was on.
After Manitoba drew even on goals from Wiebe and Schmidt, Stamkos restored Ontario's lead on a power play at 13:43 , rifling a shot into the top corner from the left faceoff circle for his 11th goal of the tournament.
Ontario went ahead by two goals twice in the second, only to see Manitoba close the gap both times. Moon made it 4-2, converting a tic-tac-toe passing play on a power play 29 seconds into the period. Toews responded at 3:15, keeping on a 3-on-1 and snapping a wrist shot past Pasquale.
Del Zotto's power-play goal at 5:44 restored Ontario's two-goal lead but Toews' second of the game exactly five minutes later sent the crowd into hysterics and kept Manitoba's gold-medal hopes alive.
Alberta's bronze-medal victory erased some of the sting left over from Thursday's stunning 5-1 semifinal loss to Manitoba, knocking the Albertans out of the title game for the first time since 1987.
Alberta fell short in its quest for a third straight medal, but has still reached the podium in five straight Canada Games competitions.
"Obviously coming into the tournament we wanted to win the gold medal," said Eberle, who plays for the Regina Pats of the Western Hockey League. "It's frustrating, but we still won the bronze. It feels better to win the bronze than it would to lose the gold."
Steele Boomer of the AJHL's Fort Saskatchewan Traders added a goal and two assists for Alberta, while Jordan Rowley of the WHL's Kamloops Blazers also scored. Jacob DeSerres of the WHL's Seattle Thunderbirds preserved the win with 22 saves, including several in the final two minutes as B.C. pressed for the tying goal.
Tyler Shattock of the Blazers, Evan Bloodoff of the WHL's Kelowna Rockets and Kyle St. Denis of the BCHL's Vernon Vipers replied for B.C., which placed fourth for the second straight Games.