CAMROSE, AB – It wasn’t the colour it wanted, but Canada East is leaving the 2008 World Junior A Challenge with a medal.
Silver medalists the past two years, the Canadians hoped to improve on that in Camrose; instead, they go home with bronze after a 9-1 win over Belarus on Sunday afternoon.
Reilly Smith had a hat trick and added an assist and Pierre-Luc Lacombe had two goals and two helpers as Canada East won its third medal in as many tries at the tournament. Jeremy Franklin, Jacob Laliberte, Ben Sexton and Brandon Pirri also scored for Canada East, who lost 5-1 to the United States in Saturday’s semifinals.
Facing a Belarussian team who semifinal had ended just 14 hours earlier the Canadians struck quickly, with Smith opening the scoring after undressing a Belarus defender and beating goaltender Vitali Bialinski.
Canada East captain Franklin made it 2-0 just over three minutes after Smith’s goal, snapping a shot past Bialinski from the face-off dot, before Ihar Varashylau got the Belarussian’s lone goal on the powerplay late in the opening frame.
Outshot 15-10 in the opening 20 minutes the Canadians took over in the second period, holding a 15-11 advantage, and picked up three goals, with Smith, Laliberte and Lacombe doing the honours.
After Lacombe made it a 6-1 game just 30 seconds into the final period, Canada East rattled off three in a row in a span of 3:56, including Smith’s hat trick marker, to round out the scoring.
Canada East held a 36-30 advantage in shots on goal, including 26-15 in the final 40 minutes.
The loss was the final stroke of midnight on Belarus’ Cinderella run. The Europeans, who had won one game combined in their previous two WJAC appearances, upset Canada West in the tournament opener and topped Germany in the quarter-finals to earn a final four spot.
That's My Take
(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)