MEDICINE HAT, AB. -- Ryan Duthie's goal at 14:30 of the second period stood up as the winner on Tuesday night as Canada's National Team edged the Japanese Olympic Team 4-3, Canada's fourth straight victory in the six-game series.
The scoring star of the game, though, was Akihito Sugisawa, who scored all three goals for Team Japan, which gave Canada its toughest test yet in the series. Canada had won the three previous games by scores of 5-2, 7-0 and 11-5.
Sugisawa opened the scoring just 26 seconds into the game, on a feed from linemate Takayuki Kobori, who also drew assists on Sugisawa's other two goals.
Ron Pasco evened the score for Canada at 14:19 of the first period, in which Canada outshot Japan 13-7. But Sugisawa put Japan ahead 2-1 at 2:16 of the second period on the power play, a lead that didn't last long.
At 3:31, during a manpower advantage for Canada, Dean Evason tied the game. And just two minutes later Jason Young, on a setup from Evason, scored to give Canada the lead for the first time in the game.
Duthie's gamewinner made it 4-2 Canada, the Japanese certainly did not quit. Just five seconds after Reid Simonton drew a roughing penalty with 45 seconds left in the game -- and with goalie Jiroh Nihei pulled for a sixth attacker -- Sugisawa scored his third goal to make it a one-goal contest.
Team Japan coach Bjorn Kinding pulled Nihei for the final 19 seconds of the game, but the Japanese couldn't get the equalizer past goalie Jordan Willis, who faced 16 shots in the game, compared to 35 for Nihei.
The two teams meet again tonight (Wednesday) in Fernie, B.C. and conclude the six-game series with a game in Bonnyville, AB on Friday night.