Canada West wins WJAC Gold; Canada East takes silver

Peter Goulet (left) and Josh Hardiman of the NOJHL’s Powassan Voodoos were both on the Canada East coaching staff that earned a silver medal at the World Junior A Challenge in Truro, N.S.

TRURO, N.S. – For the first time since 2017, Team Canada West has won the gold medal at the World Junior A Hockey Challenge, claiming its sixth gold with a 7-2 win over Team Canada East on Sunday at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre.

Jack Silverberg (Sherwood Park, AB/Okotoks, AJHL) opened the scoring 1:10 into the game, setting the table for a seven-goal outburst from Canada West, the most goals scored in the gold medal game since the United States scored seven in 2008.

Ronan Buckberger (Saskatoon, SK/Nipawin, SJHL) and Matthew Van Blaricom (Southey, SK/Humboldt, SJHL) each scored twice, while Erick Roest (Lethbridge, AB/Sherwood Park, AJHL) turned aside 30 shots for the win.

“This win today truly shows the character of this team,” said Canada West head coach Scott Barney (Oshawa, ON/Humboldt, SJHL). “We had a tough start to this tournament, but we had some deep heart-to-heart conversations with the players and staff and we got everyone pulling on the same rope. Guys bought in to the right way to play and this is a great feeling.”

Canada West snuck into the playoff round with only a single win in the preliminary round, before stunning the undefeated United States in overtime in Saturday’s semifinals.

Jack Silverberg (Sherwood Park, AB/Okotoks, AJHL), Nathan Brown (Winnipeg, MB/Niverville, MJHL) and Layne Loomer (Lethbridge, AB/Blackfalds, AJHL) rounded out the scoring for Canada West.           

“This is an amazing feeling,” said Van Blaricom. “It is hard to believe really with how we started this tournament, but it’s truly crazy how far we came as a team to get to this point. When you look around that [dressing] room, we knew we had a tough road to get here, but all we needed was a chance and we made it count.”

Trevor Hoskin (Bellville, ON/Cobourg, OJHL) and Vincent Gauthier (St-Zotique, QC/Valleyfield, LHJAAAQ) scored for Canada East, which collected its eighth silver medal.

Earlier Sunday, the United States earned its fourth bronze medal with an 8-5 win over Sweden. Trevor Connelly scored four goals, including a hat trick in the first period, to power the U.S. to victory. Connelly becomes just the third player to score four goals in a game at the tournament, joining Kyle Turris (2006) and Ty Daneault (2022).

Photos: Erica Perreaux / Hockey Canada Images