Matthew Davis (Calgary, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL) finished with 41 saves in regulation and overtime before turning away six of seven attempts in the shootout, and Alex Newhook (St. John’s, N.L./Victoria, BCHL) netted the winner to give Canada West a 2-1 extra-time win over the United States.
After five-consecutive Canadians had been stopped by Isaiah Saville, Newhook snapped a quick shot past the glove of the U.S. netminder, and Davis stopped Matt Brown to give West the extra point.
The game was a goaltending duel from the very start, with Davis and Saville combining for 34 saves through a scoreless – and fast-paced – opening 40 minutes.
The U.S. finally broke through thanks to its penalty kill; Grant Silianoff forced a turnover at the defensive blue-line and carried into the Canadian zone before finding Griffin Ness, who snuck a backhand behind Davis on the glove side for a shorthanded goal and a 1-0 lead.
Ethan Leyh (Port Moody, B.C./Langley, BCHL) responded for the Canadians less than four minutes later, taking a long stretch pass from West captain T.J. Lloyd (Lloydminster, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL) and toe-dragging around a U.S. defenceman before wiring a wrist shot past Saville.
Davis took over from there, making 20 of his 41 saves in the third period as the Americans swarmed unsuccessfully for the go-ahead goal.
After a scoreless five minutes of three-on-three overtime, Massimo Rizzo (Burnaby, B.C./Penticton, BCHL) gave West an early lead with a gorgeous goal in the shootout.
That would be it for goals – thanks in part to a pair of posts on the two American shots – until Ness jammed a backhand under the cross-bar on the fifth American attempt with the game on the line.
Rizzo and Bobby Brink missed their shots in Round 6 before Newhook potted the winner.
“When you play for Team Canada and you put that jersey on, it’s all about the crest on the front and playing for each other. It’s about playing smart, hard and together, and being all-in. They definitely showed today that they’re a group that’s capable of being all-in.
“I think more than anything, the guys realized that the tournament is at a different level than even our selection camp was, which they thought was very difficult. So it’s that approach that we were able to utilize this game. We have to be at our very best for every team in this tournament.”
Rick Swan, head coach for Team Canada West, discusses his team’s mindset after Team Canada West’s opening-night win
Canada West is right back to action Monday night, taking on Canada East (7 p.m. MT), while the Americans will enjoy a day off before taking on the Czech Republic in the lone game Tuesday (7 p.m. MT).