By DAVE PAUL
Team USA showed that it is going to be a formidable foe at the World U-17 Hockey Challenge, beating Canada White, 6-0, in pre-tournament exhibition play, Friday night at RBC Centre.
The Americans showed a cohesion that, perhaps, should not come as a surprise for a team that plays together regularly (and features several of the top-ranked players for the 2016 NHL Draft). They dominated the game from start to finish against a Canadian club that has only been cobbled together for this tournament.
The U.S. outshot Canada White -- one of three Canadian teams in the tournament -- in all three periods, and 43-23 overall.
Six different players scored for the Americans, who led 1-0 after one period (James Sanchez at 3:33), and 4-0 after two periods (Patrick Khodorenko, Adam Fox on a power play and William Lockwood shorthanded) before scoring twice in the third (Max Jones on a power play and Clayton Keller).
Jake Oettinger and Joseph Woll shared the shutout. Canada's best chances came in the third when they nearly beat Woll on a couple of power play opportunities. Gabriel Bilodeau of Val D'Or in the QMJHL hit the side of the net on one golden chance.
Samuel Harvey and Ryan Kubic split the duties in net for Canada, each surrendering three goals.
Following the game, Canada coach Sheldon Keefe of the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, said he expected a stiff test from the American squad.
"That's a good hockey team," said Keefe. "They've played a lot of hockey together, coming into this event."
Keefe added, despite the score, there was value in the experience for his team.
"I think we learned some things," he said. "I think we have a better sense of what we've got as a team. ... Hopefully we can put some of those lessons to good use in the upcoming days."
Sting defenceman Jakob Chychrun (although American-born, a dual citizen and a member of the Canada White team) did not play in the contest. He is nursing an "upper body" injury, said Keefe. The coach added he is "close to being able to return to the lineup" and he is hopeful the star blueliner will be ready for the tournament's opening game.
The preliminary round begins Sunday, with all eight teams in action at RBC Centre and The Shores Recreation Centre.