The U.S. Junior Select Team edged Canada East, 3-2, to complete the preliminary stage of the 2014 World Junior A Challenge in Kindersley, Saskatchewan Tuesday.
In the final 2.5 seconds of regulation play, Shane Gersich tipped in a shot from the point to give the U.S. the win. With the victory, Team USA moved into first place in the tournament and clinched a spot in the semifinal round.
“Canada East played a fantastic game. They were tenacious, hard-working and very competitive,” said Jay Varady, coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team. “But our group also did a great job. Late in the game, our leadership took control and didn’t panic, and we were able to capitalize on key scoring chances.”
In the opening period, the U.S. struck first at 11:24 while on the power play. Brock Boeser cleanly won a faceoff back to Kyle Connor at the right point. Connor rifled a shot and Boeser redirected it past Canadian goaltender Blade Mann-Dixon for the 1-0 lead.
Canada East converted on the man-advantage just over four minutes later to knot the score at one.
In a scoreless second stanza, neither team could capitalize on special teams opportunities, and the score remained tied until 15:07 of the third period when Canada East scored the go-ahead goal while on the power play.
But with 1:31 left in regulation and the U.S. cycling in the offensive zone, Christian Wolanin passed the puck to Seamus Maloneat the top of the right circle and he one-timed a shot through traffic, tying the game at 2-2.
Later, with seven seconds remaining on the clock, Team USA won an offensive battle along the boards that led to the game-winning goal. Wolanin got the puck, skated to the top of the slot for a shot and Gersich tipped it in with 2.5 seconds on the clock, giving Team USA the 3-2 victory.
The U.S. outshot Canada East 46-28, including 23-4 in the final period. Goaltender Cale Morris was named U.S. player of the game for his 24-save performance.
Team USA will return to action during the semifinal round of competition Thursday. Puck drop be will at either 3:30 or 7:30 p.m., with the opponent to be determined.