Austin Wong (Cochrane, Alta./Okotoks, AJHL) and Harrison Blaisdell (Abbotsford, B.C./Chilliwack, BCHL) scored two goals apiece, and Canada West used a four-goal second period to earn a 6-1 win over Canada East on Monday night at the 2018 World Junior A Challenge.
The game marked the first ever all-Canadian match-up in the preliminary round; West continues to own the head-to-head series, improving to 8-1 against its eastern rivals.
Blaisdell added an assist for a three-point performance, while Luke Bast (Red Deer, Alta./Brooks, AJHL) chipped in with a goal and a helper.
Matthew Radomsky (Winnipeg, Man./Steinbach, MJHL) finished with 19 saves in his first action of the tournament.
West held a 14-7 advantage in shots on goal in the first period, but it was East that opened the scoring; Riley McCutcheon (Courtice, Ont./Cobourg, OJHL) broke in off the right wing and snapped a shot that beat Radomsky to the far side late in the opening frame.
It was all West after that, starting with a dominant second period.
Bast finally solved East goaltender Liam Soulière (Amos, Que./Brockville, CCHL) early in the middle frame, letting go a quick one-timer that found room along the ice for a power-play goal.
“I think we just moved the puck well and got our cycle going. I play with [Dylan] Holloway quite a bit during the season, so we’re able to carry that chemistry over.
“We just had to get used to the tournament. We had a feeling out process over the past couple of games and I think we found our stride tonight.”
Austin Wong, forward and player of the game for Team Canada West, on the chemistry he has with his line mates
“It’s really important, especially for the confidence of the group so we know that we can do it [win the World Junior A Challenge]. We have a good group and all we can do is give our maximum effort and I think we’ll keep doing well.”
Jérémie Bucheler, defenceman for Team Canada West, on the importance of starting the tournament with two wins
Wong gave West the lead for good just shy of the nine-minute mark, finishing off a gorgeous tic-tac-toe passing play with Alex Newhook (St. John’s, N.L./Victoria, BCHL) and Dylan Holloway (Bragg Creek, Alta./Okotoks, AJHL), and he jumped on a bouncing puck in the slot less than five minutes later to make it 3-1.
Blaisdell capped the offensive outburst at 16:32 on another man advantage, redirecting a T.J. Lloyd (Lloydminster, Alta./Spruce Grove, AJHL) shot past Soulière to send West to dressing room with a three-goal lead after 40 minutes.
It was 5-1 after Blaisdell followed up a Massimo Rizzo (Burnaby, B.C./Penticton, BCHL) breakaway to tap in a pass from Ethan Leyh (Port Moody, B.C./Langley, BCHL) four minutes into the third period, and Leyh went five-hole on Soulière with eight minutes left to finish the scoring.
Final shots on goal favoured West, 48-20.
Both teams see the ice at R.J. Lalonde Arena next on Wednesday. East is up first, taking on the United States (2 p.m. MT), before West faces Russia in a battle of unbeaten teams (7 p.m. MT).