U.S. uses special teams to down Canada East in WJAC play Wednesday

By Jason La Rose/Hockey Canada

BONNYVILLE, Alta. – Cal Kiefiuk and Robert Mastrosimone scored two goals apiece, and the United States survived a slow start and a wild first period to earn a 7-3 win over Canada East on Wednesday afternoon at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge.

The win confirms a semifinal spot for the U.S., which scored four times on the power play – three of them with a two-man advantage – to beat the Canadians.

Bobby Brink finished with a goal and two assists, while Luke Johnson, Trevor Janicke and Matt Brown added two helpers each.

Despite the final score, the early minutes belonged to the Canadians, who struck twice before the U.S. recorded its first shot on goal.

John Beaton (Stittsville, Ont./Kemptville, CCHL) opened the scoring on the power play just 50 seconds in, burying a centering pass after hard work in the corner by Jamie Engelbert (Whitby, Ont./Cobourg, OJHL), and Derek Dicaire (Val-d’Or, Que./Valleyfield, LHJAAAQ) jumped on a loose puck in the slot to make it 2-0 at 3:05.

But the lead was short-lived. A pair of quick Canadian penalties put the U.S. on a five-on-three, and the Americans capitalized; Brink hammered a one-timer through East goaltender Jack Watson (Toronto, Ont./St. Michael’s, OJHL) to make it a one-goal game, and Mastrosimone tipped in a shot from Brink 75 seconds after that to tie the game.

Zac Jones jumped in off the blue-line to tuck a backhand past Watson and give the Americans their first lead at 12:36, but Riley McCutcheon (Courtice, Ont./Cobourg, OJHL) finished a two-on-one with Beaton just 1:03 later to send the game to the intermission tied 3-3.

Kiefiuk restored the lead with a two-man advantage at 7:54 of the second period, ripping a one-time past Watson, and he went hard to the net to finish a set-up from Janicke at 13:28 to stretch the lead to two.

Mastrosimone added another five-on-three goal before the end of the middle frame, redirecting a pretty pass from Brink into an open net to make it a 6-3 game after 40 minutes.

Shane Pinto capped the scoring early in the third period, toe-dragging to the middle of the ice before snapping a shot past Watson, who finished with 32 saves.

The Americans close out their preliminary-round schedule against Russia on Friday afternoon (2 p.m. MT), before East faces a must-win against the Czech Republic in the prelim finale (7 p.m. MT).

Photo credit: Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images