Featuring the only match-up with two undefeated teams in the same game, the Americans came out very strong out of the gate before surviving a late comeback to beat Canada White 7-5.
To no one’s surprise, the Americans were the much faster team right off the opening faceoff. At 2:49 into the first period. Scott Reedy, who scored twice in a big victory over the Czech’s on Sunday, potted one early after finding a rebound in tight before knocking in the 1-0 goal.
The Canadiens weren’t too interested in falling far behind early. At 5:08 in the first, Owen Tippett would live up to his name after tipping in a point shot from Austen Keating, knotting things back up at one. The tie wouldn’t last for long, however, as Grant Mismash gave his team the go-ahead goal about a minute later, signifying that the game would be an intense shooting affair for both nations.
Ian Scott’s rough start continued mid-way through the period. With one of his own teammates in the box, Joey Cassetti scored on a two-on-zero gift, scoring a shorthanded five-hole goal to make it 3-1 Americans.
The Americans were much stronger all over the ice, controlling the play both offensively and defensively. USA’s fourth goal would be created after David Ferrance made a couple of nice passes in the offensive zone, with Mishmash eventually picking up the rebound in front and scoring his second of the night. The Canadian goaltender was pushed on the play, but a crease violation was not called on the play.
Canada wouldn’t leave the first period without cutting the lead in half. Heading into the final minute, Ian Mitchell’s wrist shot from the point was too much for Adam Scheel, going off a defender in front of the net before making its way into the desired area. The goal gave Canada a bit of life heading into the second period, but the favourited Americans still managed to hold on to the 4-2 lead after a period of play.
After 6:34 of play in the second, the Canadians found themselves down by just a goal. Hayden Ostir’s original shot would get deflected off the helmet of an American defenseman, but the puck would land on the blade of Windsor Spitfires prospect Gabe Vilardi. Being one of the most highly touted forwards heading into the 2017 NHL Draft, Vilardi wasn’t going to let a tough angle deter his effort, scoring a top-shelf marker to bring his team closer to a tie.
A good second period by the Canadians would be temporarily derailed with about half the game still left. A point-shot by Max Gildon would hit Randy Hernandez in front of the net, redirecting the disk over Scott and in for the two-goal lead for the Americans. Josh Norris would add to the oncoming onslaught, blowing a wicked wrist shot past Scott with three minutes to go for the first power-play goal of the game, giving his team the 6-3 lead heading into the intermission.
London Knights defenseman Evan Bouchard was quietly having himself a great game, recording two assists early in the game. His hard working demeanor would end up rewarding Canada with their fourth goal of the game after picking up the puck following his own shot. Instead of sending it back towards the net, Bouchard made a pass to Louis-Filip Cote in front for the one-timer on the power play, giving Canada just a bit of life with ten minutes to go.
If anyone was still unsure of Vilardi’s star power, his pass to Greg Meireles with 5:31 left in the game was proof he’ll be a fantastic NHLer someday. Vilardi, one of the best players on the ice after two games for Canada, found a sneaky Meireles sitting all alone in the slot, ripping it home on the one-timer to put Canada within just one goal late in the game. The goal appeared to have changed the tempo of the match, but an empty netter by Evan Barratt with just six seconds to go helped seal the deal for the favoured Americans, who will head into the final day of preliminary round action with a 2-0 record.
The Americans will return to the late night game on Wednesday night when Canada Black hits the ice for the 9:00 pm EST challenge. A point would give them sole possession of first place in Group A, something that was easily expected from the get go. Canada White will still be their toughest competitor in the standings, but the Czech Republic may have something to say about that when the match begins at 4:30 pm.
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