U.S. BLANKS CANADA EAST FOR SEVENTH WJAC GOLD
JASON LA ROSE
BONNYVILLE, Alta. – Nick Swaney scored the game-winning goal in the last minute of the first period, and the United States won its seventh gold medal in 10 years at the World Junior A Challenge with a 4-0 win over Canada East on Saturday night.
The Americans also claimed the top prize in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
Canada East settled for silver for the fifth time; it fell one win short in 2006, 2007 and 2011 against Canada West, and in 2010 against the U.S.
Cayden Primeau – named to the WJAC all-star team alongside Swaney – need to record just 14 saves to post the first gold medal game shutout in tournament history, giving him a tournament-best 0.75 goals-against average and .966 save percentage.
With the seconds ticking away in an evenly-played first period, Swaney stepped over the blue-line and snuck a wrist shot through Canadian goaltender Stefano Cantali (Montreal, Que./Longueuil, LHJQ).
The Americans clamped down defensively after that; Canada East managed just seven shots on goal over the final 40 minutes, while the U.S. directed 35 at Cantali. In all, the U.S. held a 44-14 advantage.
Alex Limoges didn’t waste any time doubling the American advantage, dangling around a Canadian defenceman before roofing a shot over the short-side shoulder of Cantali just 2:21 into the second period.
Collin Adams made it 3-0 with an unassisted effort at 7:02, jumping on a turnover in the Canadian zone, and Ethen Frank snuck in a wraparound just over three minutes after that to provide the final margin of victory.
Despite the loss, Cantali was a standout once again for the easterners; playing every minute of the tournament, he stopped 147 of the 156 shots he faced, which were 45 more than any other netminder.
In addition to Primeau and Swaney, Canada East captain Owen Grant (Stittsville, Ont./Carleton Place, CCHL) was named a tournament all-star. He was joined on the blue-line by Canada West captain Cale Makar (Calgary, Alta./Brooks, AJHL), while WJAC MVP Andrei Svechnikov from Russia and Czech Republic forward Kristian Reichel joined Swaney up front.
The host of the 2017 World Junior A Challenge, scheduled for next December, will be announced in the coming months.