The Vees’ Mason Snell, wearing No. 3 for Team Canada West, nudges the USA’s Griffen Ness as Matthew Davis blocks his shot in their semifinal game at the World Junior A Challenge Saturday. Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images

Canada West loses to U.S. in semifinal

West still has chance to win bronze

After beating the United States in an overtime shootout earlier in the tournament, Team Canada West lost a semifinal game to the U.S. in OT Saturday night.

Related:Penticton Vees Rizzo helps Team Canada to win over U.S.

Griffin Ness converted a breakaway 7:35 into overtime, giving the U.S. a 3-2 semifinal win over Canada West and a place in the gold medal game at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge.

Penticton Vee David Silye, in his Canada West uniform, greets a young fan off-ice at the World Junior A Challenge. Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images

“We just let them know that we’re not done here, we still haven’t fulfilled what we came here to do and why we’re here for Team Canada West,” said Rick Swan, head coach for Canada West, regrouping the team for the bronze medal game against the Czech Republic Sunday. “Ultimately, we made sure we were proud of the effort that they had, and let’s have a short-term memory. Let’s regroup together as a staff and as 22 players so we finish this thing right.”

With the teams going end to end in a non-stop overtime period, Ness took a stretch pass from Jack Malone and raced away from the Canadian defence before beating goaltender Matthew Davis (Calgary, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL) past the blocker.

The Americans came out like a house on fire in the semifinal, striking for a pair of goals in the first seven minutes to quiet the pro-Canadian crowd at the R.J. Lalonde Arena.

Josh Nodler got it started at 4:31, cleaning up a loose puck in front after Robert Mastrosimone stickhandled his way to the front of the net, and Ronnie Attard one-timed a cross-ice feed from Bobby Brink past Davis at 6:08.

West had its opportunities in the second period, but it took until the 16:40 mark to break through; just seconds after he had the puck roll off his stick on a mini-breakaway down low, Mathieu Gosselin (Quebec City, Que./Merritt, BCHL) banked a shot off U.S. netminder Blake Pietila from behind the net to get the Canadians within one after 40 minutes.

Alexander Campbell (Châteauguay, Que./Victoria, BCHL) needed just 1:49 of the third period to get West even, sneaking behind the American defence and slipping a backhand five-hole on Pietila to make it 2-2.

The teams traded chances the rest of the way, but neither could find the winner in regulation.

The U.S. will face Russia on Sunday afternoon (2 p.m. PST), one win away from its eighth gold medal, and second in Bonnyville – it claimed the 2016 title in northeastern Alberta.

Related:Three Vees named to Team Canada West

Related:Penticton Vees player earns assist in Canada West win

Related:BCHL’ers blanked by Russia at World Junior A Challenge

Related:Shootout loss for Canada West against Czech Republic

Steve Kidd
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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