OTTAWA, ON – The seven-time defending champions from Team USA built a comfortable lead and never looked back, as Team Canada dropped their opening game of the 2016 FIL U19 Men’s World Championship by a score of 12-5 on a rainy evening in Coquitlam, BC.
A estimated crowd of 1,500 witnessed some long sustained offensive possessions from the American’s, which seemed to keep the Canadian’s off balance. While they came out more aggressively in the second half, the host country had trouble getting their offence in rhythm and was not able to overcome their slow start.
“We started really slow, it seemed like we were playing in slow motion,” said head coach Taylor Wray (Edmonton, Alta.). “I thought we got better after the first half. We started making more little plays, but we still got lots to do, lots to work on.”
The USA had a 3-0 lead late in the first quarter, which included two goals from Simon Mathias, before Tanner Cook scored Canada’s first goal of the tournament thanks to some crafty stick work off a rebound in close. A quick reply from USA team captain Timmy Kelly ended the first quarter, with Canada down 4-1.
Utilizing the same patience in the offensive zone, Team USA started the second quarter with four unanswered goals, with Ryan Conrad potting two, while Mac OKeefe and Michael Sowers got one a piece. Tre Leclaire (Surrey, B.C.) scored one for Canada near the end of the quarter, giving his squad some life heading into the dressing room.
Canada looked to have a jump in their step to start the second half, as they were able to keep the pressure on their opponent. Midfielder Riley Curtis (Brampton, Ont.) scored on a feed from Jeff Teat (Brampton, Ont.), after spinning off a defender to get open. Peterborough’s Ethan Walker also added a goal, which cut the lead to 9-4.
The lone goal from the Canadian’s in the fourth quarter was courtesy of Ben French (Toronto, Ont.), who buried a shot up high after a nice roll dodge allowed him to slip away from his defender. The visitors scored multiple times in the last frame, which included a hat trick goal from Kelly.
Kyle Hebert (Burlington, Ont.), who took over in goal for Caelahn Bullen (Calgary, Alta.) at the start of the second half, looked calm in the net, making some nice saves. Justin Inacio (Oakville, Ont.) was also a bright spot for Canada, taking all of his team’s face-offs and winning nine of them.
“Today was not our best performance,” stated Wray. “In the first half, we had way too many turnovers, way too many dropped balls. Those things are correctable and we need to correct them if we want to compete the rest of the tournament. I know we can play better than that, and we will play better than that.”
Team Canada gets a break from game action tomorrow, giving them some time regroup before they return to the field on Saturday, July 9 at 7:30pm PST for a game against England.