International Ice Hockey Federation

Canada rallies past U.S.

Canada rallies past U.S.

Lavoie scores twice for undermanned Canadians

Published 19.04.2018 23:26 GMT+5 | Author Lucas Aykroyd
Canada rallies past U.S.
MAGNITOGORSK, RUSSIA - APRIL 19: Canada's Alexis Lafreniere #11 celebrates with his bench after scoring against USA during preliminary round action at the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship. (Photo by Steve Kingsman/HHOF-IIHF Images)
At a jam-packed Arena Metallurg, Canada opened with a 6-4 win over the U.S. on Thursday. Awaiting reinforcements, the Canadians played with just 18 skaters.

The Canadians trailed 1-0 in the first period and 2-1 in the second, and allowed the Americans to tie it up at 4-4. They showed resilience to overcome the defending champions in this see-saw battle.

Raphael Lavoie led the way with two goals for Canada, including the third-period winner. Liam Foudy and Kevin Bahl added a goal and an assist apiece, and Alexis Lafreniere and Akil Thomas also scored.

"It was a great way to start off," said Canada's Tylan Dellandrea. "We had a great team effort and everybody bought in to come out of there with a win. We’ve just got to get better from here on out."

Jack Hughes, the youngest American player at 16, was the top points-getter with a goal and two assists. Oliver Wahlstrom scored two power play goals and Joel Farabee added a single as the U.S. fell short in rookie head coach Seth Appert’s U18 debut. Jonathan Gruden had two assists.

"We’re playing great teams here," said Hughes. "This is the best of the best. It’s going to be a tough tourney."

Both team’s starting goalies wore number 1, but it was more of a night to remember for Canada’s Colten Ellis than the U.S.’s Drew DeRidder. The U.S. outshot Canada 35-25 in the loss.

"I thought our goaltender was really good," said Canadian coach Don Hay. "Colten made some big saves for us."

The Americans are looking for their eighth gold medal in the last 10 years and first on Russian ice. Canada last won this tournament in 2013 in Sochi, with its previous golds in 2003 and 2008.

Hay, who led the Sochi team to gold, went with 11 forwards and seven defencemen. Forwards Joe Veleno (Drummondville Voltigeurs) and Aidan Dudas (Owen Sound Platers) and defenceman Oliver Rodrigue (Drummondville) were unable to make it for the opener.

Hay said his roster is "a work in progress. It’s going to take maybe a couple of days before we get everybody in here."

Unlike at the annual Ivan Hlinka summer tournament, the U.S. has historically dominated Canada at the U18 World Championship. The two nations last met in the 2016 bronze medal game in North Dakota, where the host Americans won 10-3.

As usual when the North American rivals face off, this was a physical tilt. U.S. defenceman Bode Eichwede-Wilde laid out Canadian forward Akil Thomas with an open-ice hit early on. The Canadians brought their gritty forecheck. Equipped with noisemakers, the Russian fans enjoyed the uncustomary display of north-south hockey on ice that normally showcases Metallurg Magnitogorsk and its KHL rivals.

"I thought it was a great crowd," said Hay. "It was nice that they got behind us. It was a really positive atmosphere in here."

The U.S. drew first blood at 4:56 with some deft puck movement. Cole Caulfield sent it to Jacob Wise behind the goal line, and Farabee converted his centering pass from the left faceoff circle. In last year’s 4-2 gold-medal victory over Finland, Farabee scored twice, including the game-winner.

At 15:59, Lafreniere made it 1-1 with a fantastically shifty rush, executing a quick give-and-go in the neutral zone with Dellandrea and then sifting through the U.S. defence before zapping a forehander past DeRidder. The 16-year-old sniper is already drawing comparisons to Sidney Crosby.

"He’s a great player and he’s also a great kid," said Dellandrea. "He’s fun to play with. Guys like him."

The U.S. besieged Canada’s net during a two-man advantage early in the second period. Farabee hit the post and Wise backhanded the puck through the crease. With just six seconds in the second Canadian minor – the second penalty for too many men on the ice that Hay’s team took - Wahlstrom stickhandled at the top of the left faceoff circle before whizzing a high shot past Ellis’s glove at 4:14.

The Canadians fought back quickly. Foudy made it 2-2 at 6:11, pulling up at the top of the faceoff circle and unleashing a high one past DeRidder. At 10:14, Bahl pinched in to take Serron Noel’s cross-ice feed and score five-hole for a 3-2 lead.

Canada went up 4-2 with 1:56 left in the middle frame. Allan McShane snagged a loose puck on the left side just inside the U.S. zone and beautifully found Lavoie in front for the tip. Ellis stood tall against Farabee on a late breakaway to preserve the two-goal lead.

The third period brought more drama. Wahlstrom cut the deficit to 4-3 at 6:40 with his second power-play goal on a one-timer that Ellis couldn't contain.

Of the U.S. power play, Wahlstrom said: "We’ve been working on it a lot lately. Everyone’s buying into the system and we’re dialed in on that topic. But that can’t win us games. We’ve got to focus on 5-on-5 and PK and go from there."

Hughes scored a magical goal to tie it up at 9:35. He darted over the blue line, took a short pass from Trevor Janicke, and then roofed it high to the short side.

"I tried to get it upstairs because I saw the goalie cheating a little bit," said Hughes.

However, that was as good as it got for the Americans. At 11:07, Canada went up 5-4 on the rush. Lavoie hustled to the net to bat Foudy's superb pass past DeRidder.

Farabee came close to equalizing on a shorthanded breakaway with under two minutes left, but Ellis was equal to the task. Thomas added the 6-4 empty-netter for Canada at 19:41.

Of allowing the Americans to tie it up, Foudy said: "It was just a couple minor mistakes there, nothing big. The boys stayed confident on the bench. We were able to come back and seal the deal at the end."

On Friday, the U.S. faces Switzerland and Canada takes on Belarus.

"We’re not going to change our game," said Farabee. "We’re going to keep playing hard. We’ve just got to limit the turnovers and we’ll be back on top."

 

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