LAZAR GOAL LIFTS CANADA TO 3-2 WIN OVER U.S., AND FIRST PLACE IN GROUP
MALMÖ, Sweden – As the minutes ticked down on Canada’s victory over the United States, the overwhelmingly Canadian crowd of 3,882 at the Isstadion chanted “Foo-KAL-eh!”
That was for goaltender Zach Fucale (Rosemère, Que./Halifax, QMJHL), the key man in Tuesday’s 3-2 win that gave Canada first place in its preliminary round group and a date with Switzerland in the quarter-finals of the 2014 IIHF World Junior Championship.
“It gave me a lot of energy,” the 18-year-old said. “It was very special.”
Connor McDavid (Newmarket, Ont./Erie, OHL) and Curtis Lazar (Vernon, B.C./Edmonton, WHL) scored in the third period and Fucale stoned Connor Carrick on a breakaway. Stefan Matteau scored for the Americans with 2:15 left to play on a shot that eluded Fucale’s glove, but Canada shut the door the rest of the way to pull off a win in their toughest, most emotionally-charged game of the tournament.
American captain Riley Barber and Canada’s Nic Petan (Delta, B.C./Portland, WHL) traded goals in the second frame, after Fucale shone in a scoreless first period in which the Americans controlled the play and had a 13-6 shot advantage.
Only a regulation time win would give Canada (3-0-1) first place over the U.S. (3-1-0).
The Canadians will face Switzerland in the quarter-finals on Thursday at the Isstadion. As usual, coach Brent Sutter wasn’t offering much insight about his team’s upcoming opponent.
“We now have 48 hours to prepare for our next opponent. Our focus over the next two days needs to be on this game and only on this game,” was all he would say.
Barber scored the opening goal at 3:29, coming around the net and catching Fucale moving the wrong way one second after a power play expired.
Some hard work by Anthony Mantha (Longueuil, Que./Val-d’Or, QMJHL) produced the tying goal at 12:49, as he used his long reach to push the puck to the left side where Petan trailed in late to beat Jon Gilles to an open side. Petan had scored the game-winner and an empty-net goal in Canada’s 5-3 win over Slovakia on Monday.
Mantha picked up his team-leading 10th point in four games.
Canada killed a penalty to start the third and then got one just as their own power play ended 3:54 into the third when Josh Morrissey (Calgary, Alta./Prince Albert, WHL) got the puck to the net and McDavid had two chances to slide it past Gilles.
Lazar was camped in front for the re-direct on a power play at 6:13 as the puck went from Derrick Pouliot (Weyburn, Sask./Portland, WHL) to Jonathan Drouin (Huberdeau, Que./Halifax, QMJHL) to the Edmonton Oil Kings forward for his second goal in as many games.