Canada Hands U.S. First Defeat At World Juniors

Two empty-net goals in the final minute ended the U.S. National Junior Team’s hopes of earning a bye into the semifinals as host Canada defeated the U.S. by a 7-4 count Thursday in the final preliminary-round game for both teams at the 33rd annual International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. A single-game tournament record 20,223 watched at Scotiabank Place.

The U.S. will face Slovakia in a quarterfinal game Friday (Jan. 2) at 7:30 p.m. (EST) at Scotiabank Place. The game can be seen live on the NHL Network in the U.S.

“It was a great hockey game,” said U.S. head coach Ron Rolston. “The pace and emotion throughout rivaled any game I’ve been a part of. We’re obviously disappointed with the outcome. We’ll be ready to play Slovakia come Friday.”

Team USA jumped out to an early lead when Kevin Shattenkirk (New Rochelle, N.Y./Boston University) blasted a shot from the top of the right circle past Canadian goalie Dustin Tokarski at 3:49. After Jimmy Hayes (Dorchester, Mass./Boston College) tallied a power-play marker at 7:15, Jim O’Brien (Maplewood, Minn.) scored from the right circle to give the U.S. a 3-0 lead.

Canada rallied for three goals in the final five minutes of the period, including two power-play markers, to even the score going into the first intermission.

After Canada took its first lead of the game just :37 into the second stanza, Jonathon Blum (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) scored off a scrum in front of the net at 3:40. Canada regained the lead on a power-play goal at 6:56, an advantage it held after 40 minutes.

The U.S. had several chances to tie the game in the third period, but was unable to convert. Canada scored two empty-net goals in the final minute to account for the 7-4 final.

Thomas McCollum (Sanborn, N.Y.) made 22 saves in goal for the U.S.

Notes: Colin Wilson (Greenwich, Conn./Boston University) was named Team USA’s Player of the Game … Defenseman Jonathon Blum (Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.) is the captain of the 2009 U.S. National Junior Team, while forward Colin Wilson and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk are the team’s alternate captains … Ron Rolston (Ann Arbor, Mich.), head coach of the U.S. National Under-18 Team within USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, is the head coach of the 2009 U.S. National Junior Team. Nate Leaman (Clifton Park, N.Y./Union College) and P.K. O’Handley (Waterloo, Iowa/Waterloo Black Hawks) are serving as assistant coaches, while Jeff Blashill (Indianapolis, Ind./Indiana Ice) is the goaltending coach … The NHL Network will broadcast live all Team USA games in the 2009 IIHF World Junior Championship … Team USA finished fourth at the 2008 IIHF World Junior Championship and has played for a medal in the event each of the last six years.

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