BONNYVILLE, Alberta – The United States Junior Select Team clinched a spot in the 2018 World Junior A Challenge championship game on Saturday night when it defeated Canada West in overtime, 3-2, at R.J. Lalonde Arena.
After Team USA scored two goals in the first period and took a 2-0 lead into the first intermission, Canada West answered with goals in the second and third periods to send the game to overtime. Griffin Ness (Wayzata, Minn.) scored the game-winning goal in overtime and clinched a spot in the championship game for the U.S. on Sunday night.
"Games like tonight are what make hockey special" Anthony Noreen, U.S. Junior Select Team head coach said. "That was a hard fought game by two great teams. The resilience and selflessness of the people in our room continues to impress our staff."
The U.S. Junior Select Team (3-0-1-1/W-OTW-OTL-L) will play for the World Junior A Challenge title on Sunday (Dec. 16) when it takes on Russia. Puck drop is slated for 4 p.m. local time/6 p.m. ET.
The U.S. came out of the gate with a purpose and scored the first goal of the game just 4:31 into the first period. Robert Mastrosimone (East Islip, N.Y.) stole the puck from a Canadian player in the neutral zone and skated all the way to the front of the crease, firing a shot on Matthew Davis. After Davis made the initial save, Josh Nodler (Oak Park, Mich.) was waiting on the doorstep and jammed home the rebound to put the U.S. up by one.
Feeding off the momentum from the first goal, the U.S. continued to pressure Canada West and would score just 1:37 after the Nodler goal to take a two goal lead.
Bobby Brink (Minnetonka, Minn.) took a pass from Matt Brown (Wood-Ridge, N.J.) in the neutral zone and sped into the Canadian zone. After crossing the blue line, Brink sent a cross-ice pass to U.S. captain Ronnie Attard (White Lake, Mich.) who fired a one-timer past Davis, putting Team USA up by two.
Team USA outshot Canada West 15-6 in the first period.
After a back-and-forth second period, Canada West capitalized with 3:20 remaining in the stanza to cut the U.S. deficit to one. Shots were 9-8 in the second period in favor of Canada West.
Playing with a sense of urgency, Canada West scored its second consecutive goal just 1:49 into the third period to tie the contest at two apiece. The teams traded chances throughout the period, but neither team could capitalize in regulation. Tonight's contest marked the second straight time the U.S. and Canada West needed overtime to decide the game after Canada West defeated Team USA in a shootout during the opening game of the tournament.
Both teams opened the overtime period with a cautious playing style, making sure to limit the opponent's chances. After a Canadian turnover in the U.S. defensive zone, Jack Malone (Madison, N.J.) quickly turned and fired a pass to Ness who skated through the neutral zone and over the Canadian blue line on a breakaway. Ness flew into the zone and fired a wrist shot over the blocker of Davis to send the U.S. to the championship game.
With the victory, Team USA will play in the World Junior A Challenge championship game for the third consecutive year.
NOTES: The U.S. outshot the Canada West, 34-27 ... Ryan Johnson (Irvine, Calif.) was named the U.S. Player of the Game ... Blake Pietila (Howell, Mich.) made 25 saves on 27 shots ... The U.S. went 0-for-3 on the power play and 2-for-2 on the penalty kill ... Click here for complete game statistics from tonight's game ...The World Junior A Challenge is in its 13th year, and the U.S. is competing for the 12th time ... The U.S. is competing against Canada East, Canada West, the Czech Republic and Russia in this year's tournament ... Team USA has captured the World Junior A Challenge title seven times (2008-10, 2012-14, 2016).
|Date||Opponent||Venue||Location||Time (Local/ET)/Result||Streaming Coverage|
|Fri., Dec. 7||Canada East*||Cold Lake Energy Centre||Cold Lake, Alta.||W, 3-1||HockeyTV|
|Sun., Dec. 9||Canada West||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||SOL, 1-2||HockeyTV|
|Tues., Dec. 11||Czech Republic||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||W, 4-2||HockeyTV|
|Wed., Dec. 12||Canada East||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||W, 7-3||HockeyTV|
|Fri., Dec. 14||Russia||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||L, 3-4||HockeyTV|
|Sat., Dec. 15||Canada West (Semifinal)||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||OTW, 3-2||HockeyTV|
|Sun., Dec. 16||Russia (Championship)||R.J. Lalonde Arena||Bonnyville, Alta.||W, 2-0||--|