U.S. RALLIES LATE, EDGES CANADA EAST IN WJAC THRILLER
JASON LA ROSE
KINDERSLEY, SASK. – Shane Gersich tipped in the game-winning goal with just 2.5 seconds remaining and the United States scored twice in the final 91 seconds to earn a come-from-behind 3-2 win over Canada East on Tuesday afternoon at the 2014 World Junior A Challenge.
Gersich cruised through the slot and got his stick on a shot from Christian Wolanin to give the U.S. the win and first place in Group A, and send it directly through to Thursday’s semifinals.
Brock Boeser and Seamus Malone had the other goals for the U.S., which ran its winning streak at the tournament to 11 games; the two-defending gold medallists haven’t lost a game at the World Junior A Challenge since a 4-2 defeat to Canada East in the 2011 semifinals.
Lucas Batt (Lewisporte, N.L./Amherst, MHL) and Zac Tierney (London, Ont./Cornwall, CCHL) did the scoring for Canada East, which finished third in Group A and will face the winner of Tuesday night’s preliminary round finale between Canada West and Russia in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
Boeser got the scoring started for the U.S. at the 11:24 mark of the first period, tipping a Kyle Connor shot past Blade Mann-Dixon (Miramichi, N.S./Valley, MHL), but Batt responded four minutes later with the Canadians enjoying a man advantage, getting a shot through traffic, off the post and behind Cale Morris.
The goaltenders took over from there; despite a combined 47 shots through two periods, Mann-Dixon and Morris turned away everything they faced for close to 40 minutes after Batt’s goal.
Tierney finally broke through on the power play with 4:53 left, wiring a wrist shot from the point that beat Morris and gave Canada East its first lead.
But the Americans wouldn’t go away, pulling even when Malone’s shot found its way through bodies and past a screened Mann-Dixon to tie the game, setting the scene for Gersich’s winner 1:28 later.
The U.S. enjoyed a 46-28 advantage in shots on goal, including 23-4 in the third period.
Canada East will play the remainder of the tournament wearing an ND7 helmet sticker in support of teammate Neil Doef (Smiths Falls, Ont./Smiths Falls, CCHL), who was injured in Sunday’s tournament opener and remains in hospital in Saskatoon, Sask.