Team Canada Red player Seth Jarvis trying to keep control of the puck as a U.S. player gives him a poke check. Penticton Vees forward Cole Shepard (in behind) assisted on the game-winning goal against the U.S. Hockey Canada photo

Penticton Vees forward assists on game-winner pushing Team Canada Red to semifinal

Penticton Vees forward Cole Shepard is competing at the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge

Penticton Vees forward Cole Shepard is headed to the semifinal of the 2018 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with Team Canada Red.

Shepard had two assists, including one on the game-winning, overtime goal against the U.S. on Thursday evening that pushes Team Red to the semifinal. In the past two games Shepard has four assists, while playing on Team Canada Red’s top line.

Elliot Desnoyers (Saint-Hyacinthe, Que./Moncton, QMJHL) banged in the winning goal 4:34 into overtime, giving Canada Red a 2-1 extra-time win over the U.S.

Related: Penticton Vees player named to U-17 Team Canada

“It was just hard work from my teammate to get the puck. I was just in the right place at the right time, and I didn’t even know where I shot it. I wanted to shoot as fast as I could, and it went in,” said Desnoyers.

Shepard raced down the right wing and circled the U.S. net before throwing the puck to the top of the crease, where Desnoyers swept it under American goaltender Drew Commesso for the winner.

The Canadians will face Finland in the second semifinal Friday at Harbour Station in Saint John (7 p.m. AT).

The win marked the second in a week for Red over the U.S.; the Canadians posted a 5-2 victory in pre-tournament play in St. Stephen, N.B., just over a week ago.

It was the Americans who came out with jump, holding Red to just four shots on goal in the first period and taking a lead to the intermission when Dylan Peterson finished a quick feed in front from Ty Smilanic at 7:19.

Related: Vees forward has two assists in Team Canada Red win

The Canadians bounced back in a big way by racking up 18 shots in the middle frame, although only one could beat Commesso; Matthew Maggio (Tecumseh, Ont./Ottawa, OHL) found a Kaiden Guhle (Sherwood Park, Alta./Prince Albert, WHL) rebound in front and converted a power-play goal to make it 1-1 after 40 minutes. Shepard earned the secondary assist on the play.

Commesso and Canadian counterpart Dylan Garand (Victoria, B.C./Kamloops, WHL) kept it tied through a scoreless third period. The netminders combined to stop 58 of 60 shots in regulation time.

The U.S. loss means no team has defended its U17 gold since Ontario went back-to-back in 2008 and 2009.

The Americans will play for seventh place Friday at the qplex against the Czech Republic (12 p.m. AT).

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