AMERICANS START FAST, ROUT CANADA EAST IN WJAC SEMIFINAL
JASON LA ROSE
KINDERSLEY, Sask. – Thomas Novak had a goal and an assist to pace a balanced offence, and the United States earned the right to defend its gold medal at the World Junior A Challenge with a 7-1 semifinal win over Canada East on Thursday night.
The Americans – who ran their winning streak at the tournament to 12 – will try for their third consecutive gold medal on Saturday afternoon (2:30 p.m. CT on TSN) against Denmark.
Tyler Sheehy, Anthony Angello, Joe Snively, Kyle Connor, Dylan Gambrell and Brock Boeser had the other goals for the U.S., which opened up a commanding 5-1 lead after one period.
In all, seven different Americans scored goals, and 12 had at least a point.
Alex Tonge (Kingston, Ont./Kingston, OJHL) scored the lone goal for Canada East.
The Americans didn’t waste any time jumping out to a multi-goal lead; Sheehy found the puck in a scramble in front of the Canadian net and beat goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon (Antigonish, N.S./Valley, MHL) for a 1-0 lead at 5:18, followed 58 seconds later by Angello, who went five-hole on Mann-Dixon.
The offensive onslaught continued at 9:48 when Novak capitalized on a turnover in the Canada East zone, giving the Americans a three-goal lead before the midway mark of the first period.
Tonge got the Canadians, and the pro-Canadian crowd at the West Central Events Centre, back into the game four minutes after the Novak goal, converting the rebound of a Michael Laidley (Little Current, Ont./Aurora, OJHL) shot, but Snively answered two minutes later to restore the three-goal advantage.
Connor capped a busy first period at 16:29, wiring a wrist shot over the glove of Mann-Dixon.
Gambrell scored the lone goal of the second period, redirecting a slap pass from Novak past Mann-Dixon, and Boeser rounded out the scoring in the third on another tip in front of the Canadian goaltender.
Eric Schierhorn earned the win in the U.S. goal, finishing with 22 saves; while Mann-Dixon made 40 stops.
The Canadians will play for the bronze medal on Friday night, taking on Russia (7:30 p.m. CT).
Thursday’s game was the 11th all-time meeting between the teams, more than any other match-up in World Junior A Challenge history; the Americans improved to 9-2 against Canada East with the win.