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Friday's three stars from the World Jr. A Challenge

by Mike G. Morreale

The U.S. Junior Select Team and Canada West have advanced to the 2012 World Junior A Challenge gold medal game after each posted impressive victories in semifinal-round competition on Friday at Mariners Centre in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

             NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards

The championship match is slated Sunday at Mariners Centre.

For the United States, it marks the fourth time in five year the Americans have advanced to the gold medal game. The U.S. had won three consecutive tournament titles from 2008 to 2010 before Canada East ended the run last year in the semifinals.

Canada West, which defeated Canada East in the 2011 World Junior A Challenge, will be seeking its second straight gold medal in the tournament.

The U.S. was spurred by a five-goal first period to gain a 7-4 victory over Switzerland in Friday's semifinal round contest. Canada West needed a second-period goal by Seb Lloyd and superb goaltending by Jonah Imoo to notch a 1-0 victory over Canada East.

NHL Central Scouting's Chris Edwards has been in Yarmouth all week at the World Junior A Challenge. He checked in with his three stars from Friday night.

First star: Vincent Hinostroza, Team USA - Hinostroza, the U.S. captain, scored a pair of goals and was named U.S. Player of the Game for the second time in the event.

"Vince scored two goals and could have had at least two more," Edwards said. "He hit one goal post. He was noticeable every shift and created several other very good scoring chances. He has had a very good tournament for the U.S. and has competed very well on the top line."

Second star: Nicholas Schilkey, Team USA - The 5-foot-8.75, 170-pound right wing had two goals and one assist in the victory over Switzerland. He is in his second season with the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League this season and has produced three goals and six points in 11 games.

"Nicholas played a high tempo game," Edwards said. "He showed very good puck handling and playmaking ability. He scored one of his goals off a very good wrist shot and skated very well all game."

Third star: Charlie Finn, Canada East - The 5-10, 150-pound goalie suffered the loss but was very impressive in turning aside 23 of 24 shots by Canada West.

"The only goal he allowed was a shot through traffic and he was bumped on the play," Edwards said. "He stopped two breakaways late in the third period to keep East in the game … he was solid all game."

Edwards' top three from Monday

Edwards' top three from Tuesday

Edwards' top three from Wednesday

Edwards' top three from Thursday

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale

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