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U.S. Tops Canada East 7-2 in World Jr. A Challenge Preliminary Round

By USA Hockey, 12/15/23, 10:00PM EST

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Team USA to face Canada West in semifinals on Saturday

TRURO, Nova Scotia — Zam Plante (Hermantown, Minn.) and Joe Connor (Amherst, N.H.) each tallied a pair of goals to lift the U.S. National Junior Select Team to a 7-2 victory over Canada East in its final preliminary round contest of the 2023 World Jr. A Challenge at Rath Eastlink Community Centre on Friday.

The U.S. plays Canada West in the semifinals on Sat., Dec. 16 at 4:00 p.m. ET.

“I thought tonight was a really good team win,” said Matt Smaby (Minneapolis, Minn.), head coach of the U.S. National Junior Select Team. “We challenged our team to manage the puck better and improve our decision making and I thought we did a tremendous job of that tonight. I know our guys are excited for the challenge tomorrow.”

The U.S. successfully killed three penalties and took a 1-0 lead in the first period. Plante scored 3:12 into the match after he fired a shot from the corner that deflected past the goaltender.

Canada East responded at 3:43 in the middle frame to knot the score at one apiece.

GAME PHOTOS

Team USA regained the lead four minutes later. Andrew Strathmann (Beach Park, Ill.) sent a stretch pass up the ice and Kaden Shahan (Everett, Wash.) won the race to the puck. He set up Connor for a one-timer, who capitalized from the slot.

Canada East scored to tie the game at 10:36 in the second period.

The U.S. added two more goals to take a 4-2 lead heading into the final third. Brandon Svoboda (Level Green, Pa.) scored after the puck inadvertently found the back of the net on a clearance attempt by a Canadian defender.

Shahan added a goal from the high slot with 4:03 remaining in the second period. Finn Brink (Maple Grove, Minn.) and Will Felicio (Holden, Mass.) picked up helpers on the play.

Team USA added to its lead in the final frame when James Reeder (Glenview, Ill.) weaved through the defense and scored from the slot 1:34 into the period, assisted by Mac Swanson (Anchorage, Alaska).

Both Plante and Connor scored on the power play in the third, finishing with two goals apiece to cap off the 7-2 win.

Caleb Heil (Victoria, Minn.) made 29 saves, earning the victory his first start of the tournament.  

NOTES: Joe Connor was named the U.S. Player of the Game … Team USA outshot Canada East 38-31 … Team USA was 2-5 on the power play, while Canada East was 0-6 … Team USA is 4-0-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) in the tournament… For Team USA’s roster and schedule, click here.

2023 WJAC

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