Team Canada East and the United States of America took their tremendous hockey rivalry to Whitby for the World Junior A Challenge bronze medal game on Friday, with the Americans taking home the third place honour after easily beating their northern rivals 7-1.
After nobody found a way to score in the first, the Americans were able to find the back of the net not once, but twice before the period was even a minute and a half old. First, Rem Pitlick got the Americans on the board after rushing near the crease and jamming the puck past Colton Point for the 1-0 goal. It was the second goal of the tournament for the University of Minnesota commit Pitlick, the son of former NHLer Lance and the cousin of current Edmonton Oilers prospect Tyler.
Then, with 1:26 off the clock in the second, the Americans got another goal on the board. A 2017 commit to the University of Wisconsin, Max Zimmer poked in the puck past the goal line after another scramble in front, just getting it over in time to beat Point and to take the 2-0 lead with most of the game still to go.
Before the game had hit the halfway point, the United States suddenly found themselves with the 3-0 lead. Josh Wilkins would send a weak dump-in on Point, but the Carleton Place Canadians puck-stopper couldn’t get a handle on it. Instead, he gave the puck right to Grant Jozefek, who easily tapped in into the yellow paint below the goal line to give USA the three-goal advantage.
Canada’s inability to actually hit the net really hurt them in the second period. By the time the Americans scored their fourth goal of the game, Canada only had four shots on net, really hurting their chances at getting back into the game. The fourth goal would definitely sting, as Chase Pearson, a member of Canada East just two years ago at the same tournament, used persistent pressure to poke the goal past Point and in to give his team the four-goal lead.
Finally, the home nation would find a way to beat Tampa Bay Lightning prospect Kris Oldham. The backup goaltender last night to Ryan Bednard, the USHL netminder would allow a goal to Canadian star Lucas Batt, who recorded his third goal of the tournament after using his quick shot to get Canada on the board. The goal didn’t help strike a late comeback effort for the home team, as Callahan Burke, Liam Pecararo and Zimmer would all add goals as the Americans easily took home the 7-1 victory.
While the Americans were unable to win their fourth straight title, their third place showing means that they have still won a medal in every tournament since 2007, the first time the team competed at the World Junior A Challenge. It also improves their all-time record against Canada East to 10-1-1, an impressive stat considering how good Team Canada East has looked at times throughout the tournament.
Canada won’t leave the tournament without a medal, however, as Canada West will take on Russia in the tournament finals on Saturday. The puck drop is set for 4:00 pm EST in Cobourg, with full coverage to come on The Hockey House.
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