HELSINKI, Finland – Mathew Barzal (Coquitlam, B.C./Seattle, WHL) and Dylan Strome (Mississauga, Ont./Erie, OHL) scored goals, but Canada’s National Junior Team dropped a 4-2 decision to the United States in the first preliminary round game for both Saturday at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship.
It’s the first time Canada has lost its tournament opener since 1998, also in Helsinki.
Mason McDonald (Halifax, N.S./Charlottetown, QMJHL) finished with 21 saves in goal for the Canadians, who outshot the Americans 27-25 but lost in regulation in the preliminary round for the first time since 2008.
After a quiet first period that included only nine shots in total (5-4 in favour of Canada), Barzal needed just 5:06 of the second to get the scoring started; Julien Gauthier (Pointe-aux-Trembles, Que./Val-d’Or, QMJHL) made a pretty pass from his knees, and Barzal picked the top corner for a 1-0 Canadian lead.
Colin White tied the game late in the middle frame, taking advantage of a bounce off the end-boards and beating McDonald for a tap-in goal, sending the game to the intermission even at 1-1.
The U.S. took its first lead of the game 7:22 into the third period when Werenski fired a point shot on the power play that made its way through a screen and beat McDonald, but Strome would make it 2-2 with a power play goal of his own just three minutes later, snapping a shot past U.S. netminder Alex Nedeljkovic.
A carbon copy of the Americans’ second goal would make it 3-2, but this time it was Louie Belpedio’s shot from the point that made its way through a screen with 3:18 left in the game.
Matthews clinched the win just 41 seconds later, poking in a loose puck to make it 4-2.
White, Werenski and Matthews all had a goal and an assist in the U.S. win.
After a day off, Canada will try again for its first win on Monday, taking on Denmark (1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT).