Sam Reinhart (2014, first round) scored the game-winning goal and added two assists Wednesday as Canada prevailed 5-3 over the United States in the marquee preliminary round matchup of the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship. With eight points (3+5) in four games, Reinhart enters the quarterfinals as the tournament’s leading scorer.
Hudson Fasching notched one assist and a plus-two rating for the U.S., while fellow Sabres prospect J.T. Compher (2013, second round) continues to look for his first point of the tournament, finishing with one shot on goal and a minus-one rating in the loss.
Reinhart was in command all game long, winning 18 of his 23 face-offs and recording six shots on goal while centering Canada’s top line with explosive wingers Anthony Duclair (NYR) and Max Domi (ARI). The unit’s speed and puck skills created regular pressure around the American net, and their work nearly paid off on their second shift of the night when Reinhart grabbed a rebound off the end boards and tried to jam it past Thatcher Demko (VAN), who got a leg out in time to make the stop.
After a scoreless first period, Reinhart earned his first point of the night at 7:07 of the middle frame when he hit Domi with a pass out of the zone and then followed up to chip the rebound back to him for the primary assist as Canada took the 1-0 lead.
With Canada ahead 3-1 lead late in the third period, the Americans came back to life thanks to line of Fasching, Dylan Larkin (DET) and Sonny Milano (CBJ). Milano disrupted a Canadian clearing attempt to tip the puck to Fasching, who stickhandled through the slot before sliding a nice pass to Larkin at the left post for the easy goal with 2:34 to play.
With the U.S. net empty in the final minute, Reinhart pressured Anthony DeAngelo (TBL) into a turnover and potted the puck for what turned out to be the game-winner with 55 seconds left in regulation.
The Americans keep grinding with another Larkin marker 13 seconds later, but Reinhart would cap the three-point effort with a nice board pass to spring Domi for Canada’s second empty-netter with just four seconds remaining to close out the victory.
|Hudson Fasching |
Fasching maintained his role for Team USA as a productive power forward at both ends of the rink, adding two shots on goal to his assist. Through four games, the University of Minnesota sophomore has three points (1+2) while sharing the team lead with a plus-seven rating.
Compher got off to a good start with motoring feet at both ends of the ice to keep the puck deep and apply heat with a pesky backcheck, but his line was unable to generate momentum like they had in USA’s previous while being matched up against the talented trio of Curtis Lazar (OTT), Nick Ritchie (ANA) and 2015 draft prospect Connor McDavid. Compher has contributed nine shots on goal to the American attack thus far in the tournament.
Domi paced the Canadians with a pair of goals to earn Player of the Game honors. Lazar and Josh Morrissey (WPG) also scored for Canada. DeAngelo struck for the Americans on the power play in the second period before Larkin added his late pair of goals to round out the scoring. Demko finished with 40 saves to earn Player of the Game honors for the U.S.
One of the game’s subplots featured the top two prospects eligible for the 2015 NHL draft – Canada’s McDavid and USA’s Jack Eichel. Each notched one assist on Wednesday, with McDavid breaking down the left side with power to create Lazar’s tally to give Canada the 3-1 lead. Eichel making a nice pass on the power play to earn a secondary helper on the first American goal.
Canada completed the round robin with four regulation victories to earn first place in Group A. They’ll next take on surprising Denmark in a quarterfinal matchup on Friday in Toronto (8 p.m., NHL Network/TSN).
The United States will remain in Montreal to face Russia on Friday (1 p.m., NHL Network/TSN) in a rematch of last year’s quarterfinal that ended the Americans hope for a medal.
Victor Olofsson (2014, seventh round) was unable to get on the score sheet as Sweden capped off an undefeated preliminary round with a 5-1 victory over Switzerland.
After the teams traded early goals, Olofsson hopped over the boards for his first shift and used his speed to provide pesky backpressure to help contain the Swiss attack. Minutes later, came down the left wing and got off a clean wrister for the first of his two shots on goal in the contest as the Swedes settled into their groove.
Olofsson continued to make the most of his limited minutes the rest of the way, highlighted by a nice centering pass from the boards in the middle frame and astute point coverage for nearly an entire shift as defenseman William Lagesson (EDM) got caught up after following the play deep into the offensive zone.
Olofsson has yet to register a point in the tournament, logging four shots on goal and a plus-one rating.
Sweden will take on Finland (3 p.m.) in quarterfinal action on Friday in a rematch of last year’s gold medal contest. The other quarterfinal matchup sees Slovakia take on the Czech Republic in Montreal (5 p.m.).
For more on all the youngsters in the Sabres pipeline, check out Kris Baker’s web site - sabresprospects.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @sabresprospects for in-game updates throughout the week on any Buffalo prospects that are in action.