Monday, November 15, 2010

Team USA wins World Junior A Challenge

The U.S. Junior Select Team erased a three-goal deficit en route to a 6-4 victory over Canada East in the championship game of the 2010 World Junior A Challenge on Sunday.

The win gave Team USA its third straight World Junior A Challenge title.

Austin Czarnik (Washington) scored a pair of goals, including the game-tying third-period tally, while Jimmy Mullin netted the game-winning goal with just three minutes remaining to complete the U.S. comeback.

"Our goal for the entire tournament was to 'climb the mountain,'" said P.K. O'Handley, head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team. "We were naturally concerned, down 4-1. But we stuck with our plan and came out on top. This was one of my best hockey experiences of my coaching career."

After Canada East took a 1-0 lead seven minutes into the contest, Team USA knotted the score four minutes later on the power play. Seth Ambroz parked in front of the Canadian net and connected off of a centering feed from Max McCormick. But Canada East notched a power-play goal of its own to take a 2-1 lead after one period.

Canada East extended its lead to 4-1 with a pair of quick backhand goals in the first five minutes of the middle frame. But Team USA responded with two late second-period goals. Sam Warning redirected a Brian Cooper slap shot for his second goal of the tournament at 15:01 of the second.

Then, with just one minute remaining in the period, Czarnik fired a quick snap shot over the glove of Canada East goalie Jordan Ruby to cut the Canada East lead to 4-3 after two.

After 15 scoreless minutes in the third period, Team USA erupted with three goals in less than four minutes. Czarnik potted his second of the night with another high, hard shot from the slot. Then, just 40 seconds later, Mullin chipped his tournament-leading sixth goal between Ruby and the near post to give the U.S. its first lead of the game, 5-4.

Michael Parks' empty-net goal sealed the victory for Team USA.

U.S. goalie Casey DeSmith, who replaced starter Zane Gothberg early in the second period, stopped all eight shots he faced in the win.

Meanwhile, Ruby made 37 saves in the loss.

NOTES: Austin Czarnik was named Team USA's player of the game ... The U.S. was 1-for-4 on the power play, while Canada East went 1-for-5 with the man advantage ... Scott Mayfield and Jimmy Mullin were named to the tournament all-star team. Mayfield was also named the most valuable player of the tournament.

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