CJHL side to meet either Yaroslavl or Salzburg Saturday in Russia in championship game
SOCHI, Russia – Team AJHL used the strength of a four-goal, second-period outburst to help them skate to an impressive 5-1 victory over Kärpät U-20 from Oulu, Finland in semifinal action Friday at the Sirius Junior Club World Cup in Sochi.
The Canadian Junior Hockey League representatives will now meet either Loko Yaroslavl (3-0) of Russia or Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg (2-1) in the gold medal game Saturday at 10 a.m. MT/noon ET.
That contest can be viewed via the JCWC YouTube link.
Unbeaten heading into Friday’s match-up, the Finnish side would notch the lone marker of the opening 20 minutes as Ville Heikkala came down the left wing and wired one high over the glove of AJHL starter Matthew Davis (Spruce Grove Saints).
Picking up a four-on-three power play early in the second stanza, the Canadian contingent drew level after defenceman Robert Kincaid (Camrose Kodiaks) buried one to the right of the slot, after finishing off some crisp passing from teammates Eric Parker (Okotoks Oilers) and William Zapernick (Sherwood Park Crusaders).
The AJHL’s special teams clicked again, converting just seven seconds into another man advantage opportunity, as Marc-Antonie Benoit (Bonnyville Pontiacs) took a left-to-right cross-crease feed from Alex Young (Canmore Eagles) and snapped the go ahead marker past Kärpät goaltender Joel Bloomquist.
Also picking up an assist on the play was Michael Benning (Sherwood Park Crusaders).
Building on their momentum, Team AJHL kept coming and went up 3-1 as Young snagged a giveaway by a Kärpät defender, then darted over the blueline and proceeded to go top shelf on Bloomquist with a precision shot that rattled the netting of the Finnish goal.
Continuing their offensive onslaught, it was more from the CJHL reps as they used a staple of Canadian international hockey, with a strong cycle along the end boards, that resulted in Brady Risk (Drumheller Dragons) and Roc Truman (Drumheller Dragons) working it to Max Giangualano (Canmore Eagles), who lifted in a high backhand to put his side up by three.
Kärpät opted to pull their netminder in an effort to get back into to it with nearly five minutes remaining in regulation, but Lane Brockhoff (Camrose Kodiaks) flipped the puck airborne out of his own zone where Giangualano won the race to the net and secured the victory with an empty netter in the late going to round out the scoring.
Davis did his part throughout to keep the Finns at bay, finishing with 38 saves in the win.
As for Bloomquist, he faced 27 attempts in defeat.