KUNGSBACKA, Sweden — Ryan Leonard (Amherst, Mass./Boston College) netted a pair of goals and Lane Hutson (North Barrington, Ill./Boston University) notched the overtime-winner to lift the U.S. National Junior Team past Canada, 6-5, in pre-tournament action at Kungsbacka Ishall ahead of the 2024 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship.
“It was an entertaining game and a good one for us to have before we start play in the tournament,” said U.S. head coach David Carle. “We’ll use what we learned in the two exhibition games to continue to build, and look forward to our first game against Norway on Tuesday.”
The U.S. got out to a 1-0 lead just 2:35 into the contest after a long up-ice feed from Hutson found Quinn Finley (Suamico, Wis./University of Wisconsin), who streaked up the middle and beat Mathis Rosseau stick side.
Canada evened the game at 9:52 when Macklin Celebrini directed the puck with his skate past Jacob Fowler (Melbourne, Fla./Boston College) off the rebound of Jorian Donovan’s shot. Replay is not used for exhibition games, but the goal would have likely been waved off if it was.
Cutter Gauthier (Scottsdale, Ariz./Boston College) had a couple of good chances on the first U.S. power play but was stopped, and also clanged one off the post from the side of the right circle with just more than three minutes left in the stanza.
Conor Geekie scored off the rebound at 4:30 to give Canada a 2-1 lead. Sam Rinzel (Chanhassen, Minn./University of Minnesota) evened the contest at 7:20 when he wristed one home from the left circle with Isaac Howard (Hudson, Wis./Michigan State University) and Gauthier drawing assists.
Team USA took a 3-2 lead at 11:08 of the middle frame when Howard threaded a pass from behind the net to a wide-open Leonard in front who went to his backhand for the goal.
Oliver Moore (Mounds View, Minn./University of Minnesota) expanded the U.S. lead late in the second period with a wrist shot at 16:38 with Gauthier and Hutson drawing assists.
Canada’s Matthew Savoie chipped the puck past U.S. netminder Trey Augustine (South Lyon, Mich./Michigan State University) with 1:30 remaining in the stanza to cut the lead to one, but just 28 seconds later, the U.S. restored its two-goal lead after Leonard deflected a shot from Gabe Perreault (Hinsdale, Ill./Boston College). Will Smith (Lexington, Mass./Boston College) picked up a helper on the play as well and the U.S. led, 5-3, after 40 minutes.
Canada cut the deficit to one goal when Celebrini tipped a shot from Jordan Dumais on the power play at 4:58 in the third period. And less than three minutes later, Owen Allard put home his own rebound in front to tie the score.
In the three-on-three overtime period, Hutson poked the puck off the stick of a Canadian defender near the left point and raced in before wristing a shot to the top corner of the net for the game-winner.
Fowler made 12 saves in the first 32:03, while Augustine went the rest of the way and had 26 stops.
The U.S. will open play in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship on Tuesday (Dec. 26) against Norway with opening faceoff set for 5 p.m. local/11 a.m. ET at Frolundaborg in Gothenburg, Sweden. All U.S. games can be seen live on NHL Network.
NOTES: Ryan Leonard was named the U.S. Player of the Game … Four U.S. players had multi-point games, including Hutson (1-2—3), Gauthier (0-3—3), Leonard (2-0—2) and Howard (0-2—2) … Canada outshot Team USA, 43-28 … The U.S. was 0-3 on the power play, while Canada was 2-3.