LAKE PLACID - It took a few days for players on the United States Men's Junior National Hockey Team to find their stride during last week's evaluation camp at the Olympic Center in Lake Placid.
After being shut out 4-0 by Sweden on Wednesday, the Americans rattled off two wins, including a big 5-1 victory over Canada Saturday to finish exhibition play with a 2-1 record. The other U.S. triumph came Thursday in a 3-2 shootout win over Finland.
Saturday's game marked the first time the U.S. and Canadian junior national teams have clashed in Lake Placid since the mid-1990s.
Andrew Copp (13), Brady Skjei (6) and Brett Pesce (9) defend the U.S. net as Canadians Frederik Gauthier (22) and Connor McDavid apply pressure during Saturday’s Junior National Team exhibition game at the Olympic Center.
(Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)
Special teams and strong defense paved the way for the Americans' win over Canada. The U.S. made the most out of a pair of 5-on-3 advantages with less than a minute remaining in the first period to take a 2-0 edge.
The U.S. team then got a short-handed goal early in the second stanza to grab a 3-0 lead.
Overall, the U.S. scored three power-play goals and one shorthanded tally while Canada went 0 for 8 when it had the man advantage.
"Our special teams play was outstanding, especially our penalty killing," said U.S. head coach Don Lucia. "We scored some power-play goals. We were opportunistic."
The Americans killed off three Canadian power plays in the opening period before Riley Barber netted the first U.S. goal, scoring from the slot one minute before the end of the stanza. The U.S. was working with a 5-on-3 advantage, and they also scored their next tally with two Canadian players in the penalty box. This time, Ian McCoshen sent home a puck, scoring with just 13 seconds left in the period.
Quentin Shore, who plays at the University of Denver, all but put the game out of reach, scoring a short-handed goal for the U.S. at the 13:34 mark of the second. On the play, he fought off a defender in a one-on-one battle in front of Canada's net, gained control of the puck and beat goalie Jake Paterson with a shot for a 3-0 U.S. lead.
The Americans continued to dominate in the third period, with Shore sending home his second of the game at the 5:17 mark and Stefan Matteau finding the back of the net at the 13:21 mark to push the U.S. lead to 5-0.
After sparkling all game long while keeping the puck out of the net, U.S. goalie Jon Gillies saw his bid for a shutout end when Sam Reinhart notched Canada's lone goal with 5:57 remaining in the game.
Gillies, a Maine native who plays for Providence College, stopped all but one of the 25 shots Canada sent his way. At times, the 19-year-old had the American fans on their feet after he made some stellar stops. The U.S. also put 25 shots on goal, with Paterson making 20 saves in a losing effort.
Canada finished the week with a 2-1 record during the camp, which also included Finland's and Sweden's Junior National teams. All four teams are preparing for the IHF Junior World Championships that will take place in Sweden over the Christmas holiday season.
"When you get to day five or six in a camp like this, the players usually hit a wall," said Canada coach Brent Sutter. "I think we hit a wall a little bit today. It was a bummer today as far as a loss or a win, but it's been a good week."