YARMOUTH, N.S. – After posting semifinal wins Friday, the United States and Russia will meet in the gold medal game at the 2013 World Junior A Challenge on Sunday afternoon. The game can be seen live on TSN2, beginning at noon AT/8 a.m. PT.
It is the fifth time in six years the U.S. has advanced to the gold medal game; the Americans won gold in 2008, 2009, 2010 and last year. The Russians are in the final for the first time ever. Their previous best finish was bronze, in 2006 and 2009.
The United States beat Switzerland 7-4 in the late semifinal, while Russia topped Canada West 5-2 in the early game. It is the first time in the eight-year history of the World Junior A Challenge that a Canadian team will not play in the gold medal game.
In Friday’s late semifinal, Nick Schmaltz tied a tournament record with five points, scoring twice and adding three assists to lead the Americans back to the gold medal game. Connor Hurley chipped in with two goals and two assists, while C.J. Franklin and Dennis Kravchenko had a goal and a helper each. The Americans trailed 2-1 early in the second period before scoring five unanswered goals to take control of the game. Schmaltz’s five points gives him 11 (four goals, seven assists) in three games, tying the tournament record for points in a single year, held by Kyle Turris (2006) and Mike Connolly (2007).
In the early game, Semyon Afonasyevski scored a pair of goals to lead the offence and help Russia erase an early two-goal deficit. Daniil Vovchenko, Kirill Pilipenko and Ivan Igumnov had the other goals for the Russians, who had appeared in every previous World Junior A Challenge without reaching the gold medal game. Nicholas Jones (Edmonton, Alta./Sherwood Park, AJHL) and Andrew Taverner (Edmonton, Alta./Sherwood Park, AJHL) scored for Canada West, which failed to reach the final for only the second time ever.
Russia and Switzerland advanced to Friday’s semifinals after winning quarter-finals on Thursday. Russia beat the Czech Republic 3-1, while Switzerland knocked off Canada East 5-4 in overtime.
Canada West and Switzerland will meet Saturday night in the bronze medal game in Yarmouth (8 p.m. AT/4 p.m. PT), while Canada East and the Czech Republic will travel to Liverpool, N.S., for the fifth-place game (7 p.m. AT/3 p.m. PT).
Also Friday, Ryan Punkari (Lively, Ont./Sudbury, NOJHL) broke a 2-2 tie late in the second period, helping East to a 4-2 victory over West in Digby, N.S., in the first of two CJHL Prospects Games.
The second CJHL Prospects Game will be held Saturday afternoon in Yarmouth, preceding the bronze medal game. The two-game total goal series between East and West features 40 of the top NHL draft-eligible players from Canada’s 10 Junior A leagues and is a unique opportunity to give CJHL prospects an unprecedented audience of scouts from across North America. Player selection is a joint initiative of the CJHL and NHL Central Scouting.
Jason La Rose, Hockey Canada’s manager of content services, is on site during the 2013 World Junior A Challenge for any tournament information or media requests. He can be reached at (403) 703-8791, or firstname.lastname@example.org.