Canada scored into an empty net with :33 left to secure a 3-2 win over the 2006 U.S. National Junior Team before 16,083 at the Pacific Coliseum in the final Preliminary Round game for both teams at the 2006 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship.
Coming into the game, both teams had already secured berths in the championship round, but the United States specifically needed a win over Canada to advance directly to the semifinals with a bye. The Canadians needed only a tie to achieve the same result.
That being the case, Team USA head coach Walt Kyle pulled netminder Cory Schneider in the final minute of play with the score knotted at 2-2. Canada’s Kyle Chipchura foiled Team USA’s chances for the win as he gently guided the puck into an open net at 19:27 for the winner.
“I’m really proud of our guys,” said Kyle. “It was a heck of a hockey game. We got down early by a couple of goals in a very tough environment, and I give our leadership credit. We got settled down and came back to tie the game. Because of our tie against the Swiss last night, we were forced to go for the win to get the bye.”
Canada finished the first period with a 2-1 lead. The hosts started quickly, scoring twice in the first seven minutes. Cameron Barker’s power-play shot from the left point through traffic found its way past Schneider at 2:35 for a 1-0 Canada lead.
The second Canada goal was set up after a linesman accidentally tangled up Chris Bourque while Canada converted a two-on-one break. Dustin Boyd gave his team the 2-0 lead at 6:42.
Team USA answered at 10:27 with Bourque’s tournament-leading sixth goal on a power-play shot from the right point. Phil Kessel drew the lone assist on the play, his eighth of the tournament.
The United States scored the only goal of the second period to even the game at 2-2 after 40 minutes. The play started with a long pass from Erik Johnson out of his own end.
Tom Fritsche redirected the puck to send Peter Mueller in alone, and Mueller beat Canada netminder Justin Pogge low on the glove side at 8:10.
Schneider finished with 23 saves, while Pogge made 22 stops.
Team USA will play in the quarterfinals on Monday, Jan. 2, likely against the Czech Republic in a game set for 7 p.m. EST at GM Place.