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Canada topples USA in WJC semis

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers
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By Jim Cerny,

The dream of winning a second consecutive gold medal at the World Junior Championships for Rangers prospects Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque and their teammates on Team USA came to an extremely disappointing end Monday night in Buffalo.

Canada dominated the United States for the full 60 minutes on Monday, winning the semifinal match 4-1 to avenge last year’s overtime loss to Team USA on home soil in the gold-medal game.

Kreider and Bourque still have the chance to earn another medal as the United States will face Sweden -- and fellow Rangers prospect Jesper Fasth -- in the bronze-medal game on Wednesday afternoon.

Rangers 2009 first-round draft pick Chris Kreider, left, looks to provide an outlet for his U.S. teammates involved in a scramble in front of the American net on Monday night at Buffalo, N.Y.
Canada will skate against Russia in the gold medal game on Wednesday night.

The Canadians stormed their U.S. counterparts in the first period, playing a physical well-disciplined style that had Team USA on its collective heels. With a string of thunderous body checks, the Canadian squad disrupted any flow that the United States attempted to piece together. At the same time, Team Canada forechecked aggressively while neutralizing U.S. skaters through center ice.

As such Canada grabbed an early lead, added to it later in the period, and headed to the dressing room with a 2-0 advantage after 20 minutes of play.

Curtis Hamilton collected his own rebound -- following a brilliants toe save by goaltender Jack Campbell -- and scored at 2:38 to put Canada up 1-0. At 13:54 Quinton Howden deflected a perfect centering pass from teammate Brett Connolly past Campbell to give Canada a well-deserved 2-0 lead.

The Americans were outshot 12-5 in the opening period, with Kreider and Bourque providing the United States with their two best scoring chances. Kreider’s opportunity came at the 12:48 mark of the first when he accepted a drop pass near the left circle and hammered a high rising shot on net which was denied by goaltender Mark Visentin.

With 53 seconds to play in the opening period, Bourque charged through the crease only to have his neat deflection just miss the top shelf and skim over the crossbar.

Canada upped its lead to 3-0 in the second period by converting on a 5-on-3 power play. Ryan Johansen jammed the puck underneath Campbell at the 5:59 mark as the United States surrendered its first power play goal of the entire tournament.

Moments earlier during the two-man disadvantage, Bourque made a clutch steal and important clear down the ice to thwart Canada in the offensive zone. Campbell followed on the ensuing rush by making two sprawling saves before Johansen scored his goal.

The Americans produced their best scoring chances in the middle stanza during their two unsuccessful power plays. Playing on the top power play unit, Kreider was a big part of those opportunities, making his presence felt by regularly screening Visentin in front.

Canada carried that 3-0 advantage into the third period, just 20 minutes away from avenging their painful World Junior Championships loss from 12 months prior, and they would not be denied.

Mere seconds after killing off another Team USA power play, Canada put the game away at 6:02 of the final period when Zach Kassian scored on a breakaway to put the Canadians up 4-0.

The United States finally broke through against Visentin on Chris Brown’s power play tally at 9:37 of the third period, but it was not nearly enough on a night that Canada put forth a completely dominating performance.
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