Penticton Vees forward Massimo Rizzo notched an assist as Team Canada West cruised to a 6-1 win over Canada East on Monday night at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge.
Rizzo, who scored a shootout winner the day prior to help lift Canada West over the U.S., added to his point tally in the third period with a helper on a Harrison Blaisdell (Abbotsford, B.C./Chilliwack, BCHL) goal.
Austin Wong (Cochrane, Alta./Okotoks, AJHL) and Blaisdell scored two goals apiece in the win, and Canada West used a four-goal second period to earn the win.
“We just had to get used to the tournament. We had a feeling out process over the past couple of games and I think we found our stride tonight,” said Wong, on the chemistry he has with his linemates.
The game marked the first ever all-Canadian match-up in the preliminary round; West continues to own the head-to-head series, improving to 8-1 against its eastern rivals.
Blaisdell added an assist for a three-point performance, while Luke Bast (Red Deer, Alta./Brooks, AJHL) chipped in with a goal and a helper.
— World Junior A Challenge (@HC_WJAC) December 11, 2018
Matthew Radomsky (Winnipeg, Man./Steinbach, MJHL) finished with 19 saves in his first action of the tournament.
West held a 14-7 advantage in shots on goal in the first period, but it was East that opened the scoring; Riley McCutcheon (Courtice, Ont./Cobourg, OJHL) broke in off the right wing and snapped a shot that beat Radomsky to the far side late in the opening frame.
It was all West after that, starting with a dominant second period.
Bast finally solved East goaltender Liam Soulière (Amos, Que./Brockville, CCHL) early in the middle frame, letting go a quick one-timer that found room along the ice for a power-play goal.
Wong gave West the lead for good just shy of the nine-minute mark, finishing off a gorgeous tic-tac-toe passing play with Alex Newhook (St. John’s, N.L./Victoria, BCHL) and Dylan Holloway (Bragg Creek, Alta./Okotoks, AJHL), and he jumped on a bouncing puck in the slot less than five minutes later to make it 3-1.
Blaisdell capped the offensive outburst at 16:32 on another man advantage, redirecting a T.J. Lloyd (Lloydminster, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL) shot past Soulière to send West to dressing room with a three-goal lead after 40 minutes.
It was 5-1 after Blaisdell followed up a Massimo Rizzo breakaway to tap in a pass from Ethan Leyh (Port Moody, B.C./Langley, BCHL) four minutes into the third period, and Leyh went five-hole on Soulière with eight minutes left to finish the scoring.
Final shots on goal favoured West, 48-20.
Both teams see the ice at R.J. Lalonde Arena next on Wednesday. East is up first, taking on the United States (2 p.m. MT), before West faces Russia in a battle of unbeaten teams (7 p.m. MT).
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