Saturday, Dec. 19, 2015
Canada West wins World Junior A Challenge
By David Brien
COBOURG, Ont. — Bobby McMann (Wainwright, Alta./Bonnyville, AJHL) and Tyson Jost (Kelowna, B.C./Penticton, BCHL) scored third period goals as Canada West edged Russia 2-1 on Saturday to win gold at the 2015 World Junior A Challenge.
It’s the fourth gold medal for Canada West, which also claimed the top prize in 2006, 2007 and 2011.
Both teams had their chances in the first period, with the Canadians holding an 11-9 advantage in shots on goal, and in the second, but the game headed to the second intermission scoreless.
Canada West blue-liner Cale Makar (Calgary, Alta./Brooks, AJHL) had the best chance of the opening 40 minutes, racing past a defenceman for a shorthanded breakaway and beating Russian goaltender Mikhail Berdin, but not the post.
The Canadians finally broke the deadlock just past the two-minute mark of the third period, taking advantage of a turnover behind the net; one Russian tried to drop the puck for another, but McMann scooped up the loose puck and beat Berdin, who was looking the other way.
The goal was the first allowed by Berdin, who saw his shutout streak snapped at a tournament-record 134 minutes, 54 seconds, besting the old mark set by Canada East netminder Bryan Gillis in 2007 (106:08).
Canada West got a little breathing room late when Jost jammed in the rebound of a Dante Fabbro (Whistler, B.C./Penticton, BCHL) shot, doubling the lead with just three minutes to go.
The goal gave Jost – who was named MVP and to the tournament all-star team – sole possession of first place in the scoring race with nine points (three goals, six assists), one up on U.S. forward Max Zimmer.
Russia spoiled the Canada West shutout bid with just 36 seconds left when German Rubtsov found Kirill Slepets alone in front of Canadian netminder Matthew Murray (St. Albert, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL), but the Russians would get no closer.
It’s the second time in three years Russia has lost in the final; it fell 4-1 to the United States in 2013.
The Canadians finished with a 34-28 advantage in shots on goal, and both teams failed to convert on the power play; Canada West was 0-for-4, while the Russians went 0-for-3.
Canada West’s all-time medal haul now sits at four gold, three silver and one bronze in 10 appearances, while Russia has two silver and three bronze in its 10 trips to the tournament.
Meanwhile, the United States thumped Canada 7-1 in the WJAC bronze medal contest held in Whitby, Ont., on Friday.
Kirkland Lake Gold Miners head coach and general manager Marc Lafleur served as an assistant coach for Canada East at the event.