U.S. BLANKS RUSSIA, WINS WJAC GOLD AGAIN
JASON LA ROSE
BONNYVILLE, Alta. – Isaiah Saville turned aside all 25 shots he faced, Bobby Brink and Trevor Janicke provided the offence and the United States claimed gold at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge with a 2-0 win over Russia on Sunday.
It’s the eighth gold medal at the tournament for the Americans, and the second in Bonnyville – they shut out Canada East 4-0 to win the top prize in 2016 at the R.J. Lalonde Arena.
The game between the two highest-scoring teams in the tournament quickly became a titanic defensive struggle; there were only 12 shots in the first period, and the combined overall total of 45 – Russia held a 25-20 advantage – was just three off the all-time record for fewest in a single game.
But the Americans made one count early. With the U.S. on the power play less than three minutes in, Brink swept the rebound of a Matt Brown shot past Russian goaltender Yaroslav Askarov for a quick 1-0 lead.
Saville and Askarov took over from there, keeping it a one-goal game for the next 56 minutes.
A late Russian power play came and went without a tying goal, and after Askarov went to the bench with just under two minutes left, Janicke hit the empty net to set off a raucous celebration on the U.S. bench.
Russia, which is the only team outside of Canada East and Canada West to play in all 13 editions of the World Junior A Challenge, remains without a gold medal; it fell one win short for the third time, joining its silver-medal efforts from 2013 and 2015.
Following the game, Brink was named tournament MVP after scoring twice and adding six assists to sit tied for the scoring lead with Russian captain Vasily Podkolzin.
Brink, Podkolzin and Askarov were named to the tournament all-star team, alongside U.S. captain Ronnie Attard and Canada West captain T.J. Lloyd on defence, and Ilya Nikolaev from Russia up front.
The 2019 World Junior A Challenge will be held Dec. 7-15 in Dawson Creek, B.C.