Final: Canada Wins Shootout 5-4

     Canada defeated the United States in a shootout 5-4 after the teams tied 4-4 through overtime Thursday night in the World Junior Championships in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The Americans (3-1) led 4-2 in the third period and now face Finland in the quarterfinals Saturday. Canada (4-0) has a bye into the semifinals.

This game story courtesy of TSN.ca

With first place in Group A on the line, Canada defeated the United States 5-4 in a shootout to clinch a bye into the semifinals of the world junior hockey championship in Saskatoon.

All three Canadian shooters scored in the shootout, and Jake Allen stopped Jordan Schroeder to seal the win.

Danny Kristo scored for the United States a minute into the third period to put the Americans in front 4-2, but Jordan Eberle’s second of the game cut the U.S. lead to one with 10 minutes to go. Alex Pietrangelo scored short-handed for Canada to tie the game at 4-4 with 4:15 remaining.

Canada thought they had the go-ahead goal with 2:10 to go, but the referee had blown the whistle for a crease violation just before the puck entered the net.

The opening period was fast-paced, with Canada getting on the board first when Stefan Della Rovere scored on a rebound 2:03 into the game.  The lead did not last long as Philip McRae tied it less than two minutes later on an American powerplay.

Jordan Schroeder scored on a short-handed breakaway to give the Americans a 2-1 lead at 7:08 of the second period, but Eberle tied again at 11:15 with a slick move in front of the U.S. net.

A few minutes later, Chris Kreider of the U.S. was awarded a penalty shot, but he was stopped by Canadian goalie Jake Allen. Kyle Palmieri had another breakaway with 6:15 left in the period, but Allen stopped him, too.

The Americans took a 3-2 lead with another short-handed goal as the second period was winding down.  This time, it was Tyler Johnson banging home a rebound with 11 seconds left as the U.S. took a one-goal lead into the second intermission.

Allen, who had not allowed a goal in two starts heading into the game, started in the Canadian net. The United States countered with Jack Campbell, who was 1-0 with a shutout in his only start in the tournament.

Canada played without defenceman Calvin de Haan, who is missing his second straight game due to an upper body injury.

Canada claimed a bye straight in to the seminfinals, while the USA will have to play a quarterfinal game against Finland. Russia will play Switzerland in the other quarterfinal game.

CC Loses in Florida Final

     No. 3-ranked Colorado College lost in Wednesday’s Florida Classic final to Maine 3-2 in Estero, Fla. The Tigers next play at the DECC on Jan. 8-9. That broke CC’s four-game unbeaten streak and the Tigers (12-5-3) are 2-3-2 the last seven games. Maine (10-7-2) has an eight-game unbeaten streak at 6-0-2.

     Sure it’s too early to take the PairWise Rankings seriously….but….Colorado College is No. 7 and UMD is No. 9 with the complete rankings here.

     A Colorado College-Maine game story follows, courtesy of the Colorado Springs Gazette:

JOE PAISLEY, THE GAZETTE
ESTERO, Fla. – No. 3 Colorado College was unable to capitalize on its power-play chances all game and especially early in the third period before Maine battled back for a 3-2 win Wednesday night.

The nonconference victory garners unranked Maine its fourth championship in the 10-year history of the Florida College Classic. The Black Bears (10-7-2) have won seven straight since Nov. 27.

“We had our chances,” Tigers coach Scott Owens said. “We had a power-play chance early (opening 1:51) in the third to get a two-goal lead but couldn’t do it. Maine is too good and too experienced a team to let hang around. They have a lot of confidence and they found a way to win.”

Two concurrent CC penalties with 9:44 left in the third on defensemen Kris Fredheim and Ryan Lowery set Maine up with a 5-on-3 power play, which proved decisive.

Wasson graduate Jeff Dimmen’s slap shot was redirected by Tanner House past CC goalie Joe Howe for the game-winner with 8:06 left.

“They (Maine) stuck with it and Jeff ripped it,” Black Bears coach Tim Whitehead said. ”It was great coming back like that.”

“It was tough to lose a game on a 5-on-3,” Owens said.

CC’s power play, rated No. 4 in the nation (25.9 percent), struggled with an 0-for-6 showing.

“We are allegedly a good power-play team,” Owens said. “No one was picking up the rebounds that were all over the place. We weren’t hungry enough to bang in the rebounds.”

David Civitarese scored his first goal as a Tiger to tie the game at 1-1 and Andrew Hamburg scored his third to put CC (12-5-3) ahead 2-1 in the second period.

Maine goalie Scott Darling (30 saves Wednesday) was named as the tournament’s most valuable player. The forwards named to the all-tournament team were Cornell’s Colin Greening and Maine’s Gustav Nyquist and House. The defensemen were CC’s Nate Prosser and Princeton’s Taylor Fedun. Howe (47 saves in two games) was honored at goalie.

Junior Showdown: USA vs. Canada

    The United States and Canada finish pool play in the World Junior Championships at 7 p.m. today in a battle of unbeatens in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Here’s a story courtesy of the Canadian Press:

SASKATOON — Canadian junior hockey coach Willie Desjardins wasn’t taking any chances Wednesday.

With a tough game against the U.S. coming up on New Year’s Eve, he gave his players the day off rather than skate them in practice.

They’ve certainly earned the break.

Canada has hammered the competition in its first three games, beating 16-0, Switzerland 6-0 and Slovakia 8-2. But the Americans have also looked strong in beating Switzerland 3-0, Slovakia 7-3 and Latvians 12-1.

Last year the North American rivals met in an identical situation in Ottawa. Both came into their final round-robin contest undefeated with a bye to the semifinals on the line, before Canada topped the Americans 7-4.

"First and foremost it’s a berth to the semifinals," said team captain Patrice Cormier, who was a part of Canada’s gold-medal-winning 2009 team. "It was a good rivalry, it was a good game and for the fans it’s exciting.

"But we just want to win because we need that win to go to the semifinals."

Six Canadian players are back from the 2009 team.

Cormier, Colten Teubert, Ryan Ellis, Alex Pietrangelo, Jordan Eberle and Stefan Della Rovere are the veteran Canadians, while the Americans have three returning players in Tyler Johnson, Danny Kristo and Jordan Schroeder.

"Our returning guys went through that last year and I think we can share that with the other players," said Cormier.

While not as seasoned as the Canadian side, the Americans aren’t exactly unknown.

Team captain Derek Stepan, a second-round draft pick of the NHL’s New York Rangers in 2008, is tied for the tournament scoring lead with eight points. Three other U.S. players were taken in first round of the 2009 entry draft: Schroeder (Vancouver Canucks, 22nd overall), Chris Kreider (New York Rangers, 19th overall) and Kyle Palmieri (Anaheim Ducks, 26th overall).

Seven of the American players were part of the U.S. squad that beat Canada 2-1 in the semifinals and went on to win gold at the world under-18 championships this past April, including Jeremy Morin and Jerry D’Amigo, who scored against Canada.

"It’s a little different type of team," said Schroeder, who is the lone American to have played in three world junior tournaments. "Last year we had a little more skill up front and this year I think we got a little more grit and grind-it-out type of guys."

Canada has won the junior championship for five consecutive years. The Americans have not earned a medal since winning bronze in 2007 and have captured gold only once. In 2004 they came back from a 3-1 deficit to top Canada 4-3 in the final.

"It’s something that we’re proud of," said American head coach Dean Blais of the Canadian-American rivalry. "We’ve taken our game to a level of respectability when 10 to 12 years ago we were fighting to be in the top eight."

Since the American triumph over the Canadians at the world juniors in 2004, Canada has won all five of the encounters between the teams.

"We’re going to have to come in with a lot of heart and determination to win this game," said Schroeder.

Looking to the New Year

Some New Year’s resolutions for the Minnesota Duluth men’s hockey team entering 2010:

  Better second-period play after being outscored 22-20 through 18 games.

  Improved penalty killing after operating at just 78.1 percent.

  Add to a winning home record with just seven regular-season games left at the DECC.

The Bulldogs had a successful first half of the season and hope, with some fine-tuning, to add to their win total. After a three-week break, No. 12-UMD (11-6-1) returns to action at 3 p.m. Saturday against Mercyhurst College of Erie, Pa., in the first round of the Catamount Cup in Burlington, Vt.

“We had a good first half with a young team and we want to build off of that,” UMD captain Drew Akins said this week. “If we play well the rest of the way, and aren’t satisfied with anything but winning, we can turn a good season into a great season.”

Coach Scott Sandelin said he’d give UMD a solid B grade from October through December. The Bulldogs have had three three-game unbeaten streaks and are 5-2 the past seven games. They stand fourth in the 10-team Western Collegiate Hockey Association.

The second half starts and finishes on the road. Between those games, UMD has home series against No. 3 Colorado College, No. 7 Wisconsin and Minnesota, and a single home game with No. 10 Bemidji State. The Bulldogs have series at Minnesota State-Mankato, Michigan Tech, North Dakota and Alaska Anchorage, and one game at Bemidji State.

“We’ve put ourselves in a good position; we’re right in the thick of [the WCHA] race,” Sandelin said. “We’ve gotten [league] points every weekend and that has to continue.

“The players we’ve counted on to be offensive leaders have done that. Our goalies have been good, and our young defensemen have matured.”

UMD has defeated No. 4 Colorado College, No. 2 Denver and No. 6 North Dakota to stay within three points of first-place Denver in the league. The final game before the holiday break, a 6-3 home win over Denver on Dec. 12, was likely UMD’s best game.

Sandelin tried Jack Connolly centering Mike Connolly and Justin Fontaine on a No. 1 line, and plans to keep the three together this week. The Bulldogs are reporting no injuries other than senior defenseman Trent Palm, who has played in just three games this season following hip surgery and isn’t expected to return.

“We’ve scored three or more goals in all of our wins, so we have some firepower, and we’ve gotten scoring from a lot of players,” Akins said. “The key to our season so far has been the first five or 10 minutes of each game. We have to let teams know right away that they’re in for a fight.”

The Bulldogs practice at the DECC through today and fly Friday to Burlington, Vt.

Mercyhurst on streak

Mercyhurst (9-9-2) brings the second-longest Division I unbeaten streak into the second half of the season, going 7-0-1 their past eight games. The Lakers have allowed a mere nine goals in that streak, led by junior goalie Ryan Zapolski, who has the most minutes (1,117) and saves (565) in Division I He has a .925 save percentage and 2.47 goals-against average.

“We’ll clearly be tested by Duluth and [Zapolski] will have to be our best player this weekend,” said Mercyhurst coach Rick Gotkin, in his 22nd season. “We had a rough start to the season [going 2-9-1], but we’ve gotten better and I like our balance and depth.”

UMD and Mercyhurst, a member of Atlantic Hockey, haven’t met in men’s hockey. The UMD women split games at No. 1 Mercyhurst in October.

Wednesday Night Hockey

     A few scores from the world of hockey Wednesday night:

      Michigan scored three power-play goals to defeat Michigan Tech 5-3 in the Great Lakes Invitational consolation game in Detroit. Brett Olson had a goal for Michigan Tech, which has lost 10 straight and 13 of 14.

     Michigan State smacked Rensselaer Polytechnic 6-1 in the Great Lakes final.

     Maine beat Colorado College 3-2 in the Florida Classic final in Estero, Fla. CC led 2-1 after two and now is off until coming to the DECC on Jan. 8-9.

     And the United States continues to have trouble with Canada leading to the Winter Olympic women’s tournament, losing 2-1 in St. Paul. The Americans are 0-5 against Canada in their exhibition schedule, previously losing 3-1, 5-2, 4-2 and 6-2. Here’s a USA Hockey release:

ST. PAUL – Despite a 41-27 advantage in shots, the United States lost to Canada 2-1 in the final Qwest Tour game in the series Wednesday at Xcel Energy Center. Karen Thatcher (Blaine, Wash.) scored for Team USA, which has a rematch with Canada on Friday in Ottawa, Ontario.

"It was one of our better games against Canada in the recent past," said Mark Johnson, head coach for Team USA. "A lot of encouraging, positive things came out of tonight’s game, especially in the final two periods."

Canada scored the lone goal of the opening period when Minnesota Duluth’s Haley Irwin tipped a puck in front of the net past U.S. goaltender Molly Schaus (Natick, Mass.) at the 2:09 mark. Team USA pressured Canadian netminder Charline Labonte, but was unable to find the back of the net.

The Americans got on the board at 11:10 of the second period when Thatcher scored on Jocelyne Lamoureux‘s (Grand Forks, N.D.) rebound off a shot from the right circle. Canada regained the lead on a Colleen Sostorics shot from the left point that went over Schaus’ glove at 14:19. The U.S. continued to push, outshooting Canada, 13-6, in the period.

Team USA generated numerous scoring opportunities throughout the third period, outshooting Canada 19-7 in the stanza. The U.S. pulled Schaus in the final minute while on the power play to gain a 6-on-4 advantage.

UPATED: Jake Johnson to NMU

Duluth’s Jake Johnson says he got a fresh start with Penticton of the British Columbia Hockey League this season and hopes to continue that success with Northern Michigan.

The former Duluth Denfeld forward accepted a scholarship from Northern Michigan coach Walt Kyle on Tuesday and will be a candidate with the Wildcats in 2010-11. He visited the Marquette, Mich., school on Sunday.

“Coach Kyle likes hard-working, consistent players, and I pride myself in doing those things,” Johnson, a right winger, said Wednesday. “I connected right away with Northern Michigan’s coaching staff and knew right away that the school and the city were the perfect fit for me.”

As a senior in 2007-08, Johnson had 27 goals and 50 assists for 77 points, while helping Denfeld to the Section 5A title game. He was named to the News Tribune All-Area first team. He played 14 games that season with Sioux City (Iowa) in the U.S. Hockey League and 57 games in 2008-09.

Johnson, 20, who is 5-foot-8 and 170 pounds, contacted Penticton coach Fred Harbinson last summer and has six goals and 11 assists for 17 points in 26 games this season. Penticton is 31-5 for the second-best record in the British Columbia Hockey League.

“Jake is a very versatile player in all situations,” said Harbinson, a former Wisconsin-Superior player and St. Cloud State assistant. “He has great stick skills and is a good forechecker and penalty killer. Many times he’ll go into a corner with guys twice his size, and he doesn’t lose many of those battles. He goes and goes and goes.”

Penticton defenseman Derik Johnson of Scottsdale, Ariz., recently made a commitment to Minnesota Duluth for 2011-12. Fifteen Penticton players have earned Division I scholarships for the next two seasons.

“It’s been a blessing to come to Penticton and play on such a good team,” Johnson said.

New DECC: One Year Away

One year from today — Dec. 30, 2010 — the first event in the new $70 million, 6,700-seat DECC expansion will be held. As if you didn’t know. North Dakota versus the Minnesota Duluth men in a single game to benefit the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame in Eveleth. There are only seven regular-season games left at the old DECC in 2009-10.

UMD resumed practice Monday and will be in town through Thursday, fly to Burlington, Vt., on Friday (where snow is predicted) and have an evening practice at the University of Vermont rink and face Mercyhurst College of Erie, Pa., on Saturday afternoon.

All of the Bulldogs are back from a holiday break and at practice. Lines being used Tuesday were: Mike Connolly-Jack Connolly-Justin Fontaine, Rob Bordson-Travis Oleksuk-Mike Seidel, Jordan Fulton-Drew Akins-Kyle Schmidt and Cody Danberg-Dan DeLisle-Keegan Flaherty. Defensive pairs were: Mike Montgomery-Dylan Olsen, Wade Bergman-Brady Lamb, Chad Huttel-Scott Kishel and Drew Olson-Chase Ryan.

Coach Scott Sandelin said goalies Kenny Reiter and Brady Hjelle will both play in the Catamount Cup tournament in Burlington.

If you’re looking ahead to the first WCHA series of 2010, UMD is home with No. 3-ranked Colorado College on Jan. 8-9. Colorado College, which beat No. 4 Cornell 4-2 Tuesday in Florida, faces Maine on Wednesday and then is off for eight days before coming to Duluth. UMD plays Saturday and Sunday and then plays just five days later.

Final: USA 12, Latvia 1

    The United States remained unbeaten with a 12-1 win over Latvia in Tuesday’s World Junior Championships pool-play game in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. North Dakota freshman Danny Kristo had two of the American goals. It was 6-0 after one period. The U.S. (3-0) next faces unbeaten and defending champion Canada at 7 p.m. Thursday.

      AND AS COLLEGE HOCKEY returns Tuesday, not a good score for the WCHA, as Michigan State defeated Michigan Tech 10-1 in the period in the semifinals of the Great Lakes Invitational in Detroit.

     ALSO, No. 3 Colorado College beat No. 4 Cornell 4-2 at the Florida Classic in Estero, Fla.

    This release from USA Hockey:

SASKATOON, Sask. – Chris Kreider (Boxford, Mass./Boston College) scored three times and three other U.S. players notched two goals each, as the United States defeated Latvia, 12-1, in its third game of the 2010 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. The U.S. improved to 3-0 and clinched a quarterfinal berth with one game remaining in the preliminary round.

"We moved the puck well and did what we had to in the first period," said Dean Blais, head coach of the U.S. National Junior Team. "I was happy that we finished strong in the final period, because I knew that however we performed would carry over into our next game against Canada."

The U.S. jumped out to a 1-0 lead three minutes into the game when Danny Kristo‘s (Eden Prairie, Minn./Univ. of North Dakota) wrist shot beat Latvia goalie Janis Kalnins to the glove side. Following a Jason Zucker (Las Vegas, Nev.) tip-in goal, Kristo potted his second of the game for Team USA’s first of five power-play goals on the night.

AJ Jenks (Wolverine Lake, Mich.) and Kreider each netted their second goals of the tournament on the power play at 14:40 and 19:03 of the first period. Tyler Johnson (Spokane, Wash.) completed the opening period’s scoring with a backhand tally at 19:38 for a 6-0 U.S. lead.

Both teams traded power-play goals in the second period, with Kreider collecting his second of the game with a wrist shot from the slot.

Team USA extended its lead in the third period, as Derek Stepan (Hastings, Minn./Univ. of Wisconsin) scored twice and Jeremy Morin (Auburn, N.Y.) collected a power-play goal of his own. Kreider completed his hat trick on a penalty shot, beating Kalnins low on the forehand with less than two minutes remaining in the game.

U.S. goalie Mike Lee (Roseau, Minn./St. Cloud State Univ.) finished the night with 18 saves, while Kalnins stopped 50 shots.

Do You Know Mercyhurst?

     When Minnesota Duluth and Mercyhurst College of Erie, Pa., meet Saturday afternoon in the first round of the Catamount Cup in Burlington, Vt., it will be the first meeting between the schools in men’s hockey.

     Do you know Mercyhurst of Atlantic Hockey? (The Mercyhurst women are ranked No. 1 in Division I and have lost just once this season — at home to UMD — but that’s another story.) The Mercyhurst men are 9-9-2 , but 7-0-1 the last eight games and are tied for first in Atlantic Hockey. Coach Rick Gotkin has coached the Lakers for 22 seasons and is 393-261-51.

      Mercyhurst has been involved in some of the more notable Atlantic Hockey games of the past decade, according to a story at U.S. College Hockey. And the Lakers have been in the NCAA tournament twice in the decade. Here are a few memorable games from the Chris Lerch story:

March 24, 2001
Grand Rapids, Mich.
Michigan 4, Mercyhurst 3

The MAAC’s first autobid turns some heads as the Lakers give Michigan all it could handle in the first round of the NCAA tournament. The Wolverines get the game winner with four minutes to play.

March 19, 2005
Northford, Conn.
Mercyhurst 3, Quinnipiac 2, OT

The Lakers, who defeated Holy Cross 4-3 in overtime in the Atlantic Hockey semifinals, get a goal from Scott Champagne 4:56 into the extra stanza to deny the host Bobcas the league title in their final season in the league.

March 25, 2005
Worcester, Mass.
Boston College 5, Mercyhurst 4

The Lakers again put a scare into a major program in the NCAA tournament, this time taking Boston College to the limit in a 5-4 loss.

March 16, 2008
Rochester, N.Y.
Air Force 5, Mercyhurst 4, 2OT

The fifth-seeded Lakers, playing their third game in three days, are denied by Josh Frider’s goal 56 seconds into the second overtime in the Atlantic Hockey playoff title game.

Ummm, this isn’t a Mercyhurst game, but it was a biggie for Atlantic Hockey

March 24, 2006
Grand Forks, N.D.
Holy Cross 4, Minnesota 3, OT

The game that put the Atlantic Hockey on the map. The Crusaders stun the top-seeded Gophers in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Tyler MacGregor scores the goal heard ‘round the college hockey world 53 seconds into overtime. The Crusaders, who would have most likely made the NCAA tournament as an at-large team if they had not won the Atlantic Hockey title, finish the season with 27 wins.

Canada Goes to 2-0

     Canada moved to 2-0 at the World Junior Championships on Monday afternoon with a 6-0 win over Switzerland in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. Here’s a game report courtesy of The Sports Network. The United States (2-0) faces Latvia at 3 p.m. Tuesday.

Brandon McMillan scored in the first minute of the game and completed the hat-trick in the final minute of play as Team Canada cruised to a 6-0 victory over Switzerland on Monday at the World Junior Hockey Championship in Saskatoon.

Jordan Eberle scored a goal and added three assists as Canada improved to 2-0 and grabbed a share of the Group A lead with the United States. Alex Pietrangelo and Nazem Kadri scored the other goals for Canada, which outshot Switzerland by a margin of 54-15.

Jake Allen made 15 saves for the win to become the first Canadian goalie to start the tournament with back-to-back shutouts. Allen has now stopped 25 shots in two starts. Benjamin Conz, who was outstanding in Switzerland’s 3-0 loss to the United States yesterday, gave up five goals on the first 20 shots he faced, but still made 48 saves in the defeat.

The Canadian power play was four for eight in today’s game and has now scored 10 goals in 16 chances through two games in the tournament.

"I thought we played well down low. We really cycled on their defencemen and created a lot of opportunities from that," said McMillan.

After a 16-0 drubbing of Latvia on Saturday, Team Canada picked where they left off with a goal by McMillan with the game just 23 seconds old.