By Jason La Rose, Hockey Canada

DAWSON CREEK, B.C. Sean Farrell tied the game late in the second period and scored the game-winning goal early in the third, sending the United States to a 3-2 win over Canada West in the opening game for both Saturday night at the 2019 World Junior A Challenge.

The defending gold medallists got a small measure of revenge for their curtain-raising shootout loss to West a year ago in Bonnyville, Alta., while improving to 7-1-1-3 all-time against the Canadians.

Brendan Brisson also scored for the U.S., while Logan Stein made 26 saves.

Both teams had their chances in a first period that saw West outshoot the Americans 11-10, but Stein and Canadian counterpart Matthew Davis (Calgary, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL) kept the game scoreless into the intermission.

Brisson broke through two-and-a-half minutes into the second period, hammering a one-timer short-side on Davis, but Alex Young (Calgary, Alta./Canmore, AJHL) dangled his way to the crease before setting up Carter Savoie (St. Albert, Alta./Sherwood Park, AJHL) for a power-play goal just over two minutes later to get West even.

Brendan Budy (Langley, B.C./Langley, BCHL) put the Canadians ahead at 6:03 on another man advantage, taking a stretch pass from Philippe Lapointe (Hinsdale, Ill./Trail, BCHL) and beating Stein with a quick shot to the blocker side.

Budy has scored in each of his last two games at the tournament, both against the Americans; he opened the scoring in the 2017 gold medal game in Truro, N.S., helping the Canadians to the title.

Farrell got his first with 4:36 left in the middle frame when his shot from the high slot made it way past a screened Davis, and he cleaned up a loose puck in close on a U.S. power play just four minutes into the third period.

The Americans kept West at bay in the final stanza, holding a 16-9 advantage in shots.

Davis was terrific in a 26-save performance but the save of the game went to Stein, who lunged across with his paddle to rob Savoie just minutes before Farrell tied the game in the second period.

The U.S. will enjoy an off day Sunday before taking on the Czech Republic in the lone game of the day Monday (7 p.m. MT), while West will clash will East on Sunday night (7 p.m. MT) in an all-Canadian showdown.


Photo credit: Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images