UFA, Russia – A pair of first period goals from Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Ryan Strome proved to be the difference as Team Canada remained perfect at the World Junior Hockey Championships with a 2-1 victory over the United States.
Malcolm Subban displayed tremendous poise and confidence with 36 saves in the victory. Subban was busy in goal, making 12 stops in the third period alone. The Rexdale, Ontario native also earned player of the game honours for his sensational performance on Sunday.
“He’s lights out. He’s been solid for us. Tonight he really took the game over and we need to continue being strong in front of him,” commented defenceman, Scott Harrington following the victory.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins opened the scoring for Canada at the 7:13 mark of the first period as he beat U.S. netminder John Gibson stick side for his tournament-leading eighth point (3G, 5A).
Ryan Strome then extended Canada’s lead seven minutes later as he recorded his tournament-leading fourth goal of the World Juniors. Strome has recorded a goal in each of Canada’s three games thus far.
With Strome in the penalty box in the third period, the United States finally solved Subban as Jacob Trouba scored a power play goal at the 11:02 mark, cutting the Canadian lead in half.
However, four consecutive penalties derailed all momentum for the United States. Game misconduct penalties to captain, Jake McCabe and Ryan Hartman gave Canada lengthy power play opportunities to secure the win.
American goaltender, John Gibson stood tall, making 30 saves in the loss and managing to keep the United States within reach for a majority of the hockey game.
With 1:37 remaining, American head coach Phil Housley pulled John Gibson for the extra attacker in a desperate attempt to tie the game. Malcolm Subban responded, as he stood tall to preserve the 2-1 victory for Canada.
“I felt really good (out there),” said Subban following the victory. “I felt really confident. I was more balanced and comfortable in net. I had all my reflex’s working as well.”
With J.C. Lipon suspended for the game, Canadian head coach Steve Spott put Nathan MacKinnon on a line with Ryan Strome and Halifax teammate, Jonathan Drouin.
“It was awesome (out there),” said MacKinnon. “It was everything I could have imagined and more.”
Canada will be back to full strength against Russia on Monday as Boone Jenner and J.C. Lipon prepare to make their return to the Canadian lineup. Jenner was suspended for the first three games of the tournament following a late hit on Swedish defenceman Jesper Pettersson in the team’s final pre-competition game. Lipon received just a one-game suspension for his check to the head on Slovak forward Tomas Mikus.
With the win, Canada now sits at the top of Group B with nine points through three preliminary games. Team Canada will face Russia on Monday in a winner-take-all situation with a berth in the Semi-Finals on the line.
Canada has won eight of the last nine meetings against the United States at the World Juniors.
- Daniele Franceschi -