What looked like a blowout early has became a classic. And two Islanders prospects played critical roles.
Kieffer Bellows scored twice as Team USA beat Canada 5-4 in a shootout to take its first World Junior Championship gold medal since 2013. Mathew Barzal had an assist on one of Canada’s goals and finished the tournament as one of its outstanding players.
Canada took a 2-0 lead in the first half of the first period of the World Junior Championship gold medal game on Thursday night. But a goal by Team USA’s Charlie McAvoy early in the second set up Bellows to tie the game with his first score of the tournament.
After a faceoff win by Luke Kunin, Tage Thompson’s point shot was tipped by both Adam Fox and Bellows standing in the slot. It hit the top corner behind Canada goalie Carter Hart to knot the game going into the third.
Barzal had an assist on Thomas Chabot’s opening goal of the game.
Early in the third, Bellows took a penalty and Canada took a 3-2 lead on Nicolas Roy’s goal. That’s less good. Canada also scored again a minute and change later to take a 4-2 lead on Mathieu Joseph’s crazy effort.
But wait! Here’s Bellows scoring his second of the game on a great feed from McAvoy to make the score 4-3. Wild!
A minute or so later, Colin White tied the game for Team USA with about ten minutes left in the third.
Kieffer Bellows having the game of his life right now. 2 goals, 7 shots, many of high quality.— (((Corey Pronman))) (@coreypronman) January 6, 2017
Barzal tried to set up Pierre-Luc Dubois in the third but Dubois missed a wide open net.
That gave way to a scoreless but crazy overtime with chances and unbelievable saves at both ends. But another shootout, Team USA’s second in two days, led to Troy Terry doing his thing. He scored three times in the quarterfinal win over Russia and beat Hart five-hole to give Team USA the last lead of the night.
Both Barzal and Bellows had shots, but Terry was the only shooter from either team to score.
Post game, Barzal was demonstrably upset at taking home a silver medal. He was one of Canada’s best players and was all over the ice all tournament long. He had eight points (three goals, five assists) in seven games and was third on the team in scoring.
But in the end, it was Team USA who gets the cross-border bragging rights for another year. And Bellows gets to walk a little taller at next year’s Islanders training camp. Congrats to both teams.
— Auston Matthews (@AM34) January 6, 2017