It took a shootout to decide Team Canada West’s first game of the World Junior A Challenge as they faced down the U.S.
After a 1-1 tie in regulation and scoreless five minutes of three-on-three overtime, it was the Penticton Vees Massimo Rizzo that gave West an early lead with a gorgeous goal in the shootout.
— Penticton Vees (@PentictonVees) December 10, 2018
That would be it for goals – thanks in part to a pair of posts on the two American shots until Griffin Ness jammed a backhand under the cross-bar on the fifth American attempt with the game on the line.
Rizzo’s second try (sixth round) was blocked by Saville with a poke check, and it was up to Alex Newhook (Victoria Grizzlies) to score the final goal in the seventh round.
“I think more than anything, the guys realized that the tournament is at a different level than even our selection camp was, which they thought was very difficult. So it’s that approach that we were able to utilize this game. We have to be at our very best for every team in this tournament,” said Rick Swan, head coach for Team Canada West, on his team’s mindset after Team Canada West’s opening-night win.
West’s goalie Matthew Davis (Spruce Grove, AJHL) finished with 41 saves in regulation and overtime before turning away six of seven attempts in the shootout
The game was a goaltending duel from the very start, with Davis and U.S. netminder Isaiah Saville combining for 34 saves through a scoreless and fast-paced opening 40 minutes.
The U.S. finally broke through thanks to its penalty kill; Grant Silianoff forced a turnover at the defensive blue-line and carried into the Canadian zone before finding Griffin Ness, who snuck a backhand behind Davis on the glove side for a shorthanded goal and a 1-0 lead.
Ethan Leyh (Langley Rivermen) responded for the Canadians less than four minutes later, taking a long stretch pass from West captain T.J. Lloyd (Spruce Grove, AJHL) and toe-dragging around a U.S. defenceman before wiring a wrist shot past Saville.
Davis took over from there, making 20 of his 41 saves in the third period as the Americans swarmed unsuccessfully for the go-ahead goal.
Canada West is right back to action Monday night, taking on Canada East (5 p.m. PST).
Senior reporter, Penticton Western News
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