BONNYVILLE, Alta. – Jordan Kawaguchi (Abbotsford, B.C./Chilliwack, BCHL) capped an impressive tournament with a goal and three assists, leading Canada West to a 5-3 win over Switzerland in the fifth-place game Friday at the 2016 World Junior A Challenge.
Kawaguchi recorded multiple points in three of four games, and with the bronze and gold medal games to go he finds himself atop the tournament scoring race with nine points (three goals, six assists) in four games.
Joseph Nardi (Edmonton, Alta./Whitecourt, AJHL) added an goal and two assists, and Carter Turnbull (Nanaimo, B.C./Powell River, BCHL) chipped in with a goal and a helper.
After killing an early penalty the Swiss struck first at the four-minute mark when Roman Tanner threw a centering pass towards the net that hit a skate in front and beat Canadian goaltender Logan Drackett (Calgary, Alta./Calgary Canucks, AJHL).
But West took control of the first period from there, scoring three times in less than eight minutes.
Jeff Stewart (Surrey, B.C./Surrey, BCHL) tied the game 93 seconds after the Tanner goal, jamming in a loose puck at the top of the Swiss crease, and Kawaguchi jumped on a turnover in the neutral zone and went to the backhand to beat netminder Beat Trudel at 12:47 to give the Canadians the lead for good.
Twenty-nine seconds later, Turnbull finished off a tic-tac-toe passing play with Nardi and Kawaguchi, giving Canada West a 3-1 lead heading to the first intermission.
Switzerland had the lone goal of the second period, a redirect from Justin Sigrist just shy of the four-minute mark of the middle frame, and Trudel stopped all 13 shots he faced to keep it a one-goal game after two.
But Cale Makar (Calgary, Alta./Brooks, AJHL) restored the two-goal advantage with a power-play goal just 13 seconds into the third period, and Nardi roofed a backhand at 4:52 to give the Canadians their largest lead of the game at 5-2.
The Makar goal gave the Canada West captain eight points in the tournament, tying U.S. blue-liner Ian Brady (2012) for most points by a defenceman in one year.
Jan Petrig snuck a backhand through Drackett at 10:52 to cap the scoring.
Switzerland finished without a win for the second year in a row, and has lost eight straight at the tournament; its last victory was a 3-2 triumph over Canada West in the fifth-place game in Kindersley, Sask., in 2014.
Joseph Nardi, Team Canada forward, on being able to finish with a win:
“We had to take a lot of pride in this game, whether we were playing for a gold or not, and it was nice to finish with a win, especially with the group we had. This is probably the last time [I’m going to be able to wear the Team Canada jersey], so I’m going to cherish it. I’m so grateful that I had the chance to represent Canada again.”
Barry Wolff, Team Canada West head coach, on what he told his team after the game:
“We talked about the process [to get to this point]. Four seconds away from going to the semifinals, and who knows what would have happened. We thanked them for their efforts and told them to be proud of what they accomplished this week. They’re life-long friends, and we’re a team forever.”