EDMONTON -- The Canadian junior team narrowly continued its winning ways at the 2012 world under-20 championship.
In a game that meant nothing in terms of the standings at the world junior tournament, Canada skated by the United States 3-2 at Rexall Place on New Year's Eve. The win gave the Canadian juniors a perfect 4-0 record after the preliminary round, in which they outscored the opposition 27-5.
It's now on to Calgary for the Canadians for the medal round, and they were appreciative of the fan support they received during the week they spent in Edmonton. After the victory over the U.S., the Canadian juniors skated to centre ice and raised their sticks in a salute to the crowd of 16,647, and then they each delivered souvenir sticks autographed by the entire team to some lucky fans.
"We want gold, we want gold," the fans chanted as the Canadian junior team left the ice.
This was a dangerous game for the Canadians. They already had locked up a spot in the semifinals on Tuesday, while the U.S. was knocked out of the medal round 24 hours earlier after its 5-2 loss to the Czech Republic.
Canada jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period on goals from Mark Stone, with his seventh of the tournament, captain Jaden Schwartz and Brett Connolly. But after the opening 20 minutes, the Canadians allowed their North American rivals back in the game.
"It was good to have a little adversity," Canadian defenceman Nathan Beaulieu said. "We needed that. It also says something that we didn't have any adversity in our first three games."
The U.S. played much better in the second period, but Canadian goalie Scott Wedgewood made sure the opposition was kept off the scoreboard.
Charlie Coyle broke Wedgewood's shutout bid midway through the third period. It was the first goal the Canadian goalie had surrendered in his two games. U.S. captain Jason Zucker banked a shot in off Wedgewood's skate from below the goal line to make matters even closer with six minutes and 48 seconds remaining.
This prompted Canadian head coach Don Hay to call a timeout. His teenagers responded to hold on for the victory.
U.S. defenceman Jarred Tinordi rebuffed a notion afterwards that this was a difficult game to play for the down-and-out Americans.
"Not really," he said. "Everyone was amped up in our room for that game."
Canada outshot held a 35-32 advantage on the shot clock, but the U.S. held a 24-16 edge in the final two periods.
The Americans finished the preliminary round with a 1-3 record after losses to Finland, Czech Republic and Canada. They now head to the relegation round with Latvia, Denmark and Switzerland.
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