SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. – For the second year in a row, the United States has won the World Junior A Challenge, defeating Canada West 2-1 in Sunday’s gold medal game at Credit Union Place.
The U.S. is the second team to repeat as tournament champions – Canada West won the first two editions of the tournament, in 20. The Americans also defeated Canada West in last year’s gold medal game, winning 7-1 in Camrose, Alta.
Matt Leitner had the game-winning goal on Sunday in Summerside, sneaking a backhand through the legs of Canada West goaltender Sean Bonar (Delta, B.C./Penticton, BCHL) just 50 seconds into the third period. Connor Jones (Montrose, B.C./Vernon, BCHL) and Eamonn McDermott had traded power play goals in the second period for the only other goals of the game.
Goaltending was the story, as Bonar and American counterpart Eric Mihalik combined to stop 62 of the 65 shots they faced, including a number of highlight-reel stops to keep the game scoreless deep into the second period.
Earlier Sunday, Russia won its first World Junior A Challenge medal since the inaugural tournament in 2006, defeating Canada East 6-2 in the bronze medal game. Sergey Barbashev scored twice and added two assists for the Russians in the win.
Following Sunday’s gold medal game, the Under Armour® Undeniable MVP award and tournament all-star team were announced:
Under Armour® Undeniable MVP: Sean Bonar (Canada West)
Tournament All-Star Team:
Goaltender: Sean Bonar (Canada West)
Defence: Mac Bennett (United States)
Defence: Wes McLeod (Canada West)
Forward: Shane Berschbach (United States)
Forward: Connor Jones (Canada West)
Forward: Cody Kunyk (Canada West)