CANADA WEST SNAPS U.S. WIN STREAK, BOOKS SPOT IN WJAC SEMIFINALS
JASON LA ROSE
COBOURG, Ont. – Liam Finlay (Kelowna, B.C./Vernon, BCHL) scored the game-winning goal three minutes into the third period, leading Canada West past the United States 3-2 in the Group B finale on Tuesday night at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge.
The win snaps the Americans’ record 14-game winning streak, the longest in tournament history, and sends the Canadians directly to the semifinals; they face the winner of the Canada East-Czech Republic quarter-final Thursday night in Cobourg (7 p.m. ET).
Noah Bauld (Halifax, N.S./Lloydminster, AJHL) and Brett Orr (Elkhorn, Man./Portage, MJHL) had the other goals for Canada West, which beat the U.S. for just the second time in seven all-time meetings.
The Canadians struck first late in a fast-paced opening period; Bauld picked up a loose puck while shorthanded and kept on a two-on-one, going to the backhand to beat American goaltender Kris Oldham.
Orr doubled the advantage just seconds past the midway mark of the middle frame, pinching in, taking a feed from Tyson Jost (Kelowna, B.C./Penticton, BCHL) and going top shelf over Oldham’s short-side shoulder.
Liam Pecararo got one back for the Americans only 62 seconds into the third period, gathering in a fortuitous bounce off the end boards and beating Canadian netminder Matthew Murray (St. Albert, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL), but Finlay reignited the capacity crowd of more than 2,300 at the Cobourg Community Centre just two minutes later, skating onto a chip pass from Jost and tucking the puck around Oldham.
Chase Pearson made it a one-goal game again at 5:49, jamming in a loose puck after Murray couldn’t control a rebound, but that would be it for scoring, despite a combined 29 shots on goal in the final period.
Overall, the Americans finished with a 32-29 advantage in shots, and both teams went scoreless on three power-play opportunities.
The U.S. will be back in action Wednesday night, welcoming Switzerland to Cobourg for a quarter-final match-up (7 p.m. ET). The winner of that game will face Group B winner Russia in a Thursday semifinal in Whitby.