Monday, November 3, 2008

Early Upset

Press Release

CAMROSE, AB – Canada West has hit a pothole on the road to a third-straight gold medal at the World Junior A Challenge.

Yauheni Salamonau scored the lone goal in the shootout as Belarus shocked the two-time defending gold medalists 4-3 in the tournament’s opening game on Sunday night at the Edgeworth Centre.

Belarus entered the game with just one win in eight games all-time at the event and was 0-2 against Canada West, outscored 17-5.

But none of that mattered on Sunday night, as the Belarussians outshot Canada West 35-31 overall and rode the goaltending of Vitali Bialinski to undoubtedly the biggest upset in the three-year history of the World Junior A Challenge.

Early on it looked as if Canada West would continue its dominance of Belarus, as Denver Manderson tipped in a Dylan Olsen point shot with the Canadians shorthanded less than 10 minutes in, and Matt MacKay pushed the lead to two less than five minutes later.

Belarus cut the lead in half with less than four minutes to go in the period as Siarhei Drozd pushed a rebound past a sprawling Andrew Bodnarchuk, who got the call between the pipes for Canada West.

Riding the momentum of the late goal, Belarus set a little World Junior A Challenge history to open the middle frame, as Drozd got his second of the game just 13 seconds after the period’s opening face-off, a tournament record for the fastest goal to start a period.

Just 15 seconds later Kiryl Brykin gave the Belarussians a surprising 3-2 lead, stepping over the blueline and snapping a shot over the glove of Bodnarchuk. Undaunted, MacKay pulled the Canadians even at the 2:36 mark, cutting in off the wing and sliding the puck past Bialinski.

After the early flurry of offence to start the second period the defences took over, as neither team could find the back of the net for the final 37-and-a-half minutes of regulation time and five minutes of four-on-four overtime.

Salamonau played the shootout hero for Belarus, faking to the forehand before roofing a backhand over the shoulder of Bodnarchuk, sending the Canadian netminder’s water bottle flying for the game winner, quieting the more than 1,500 in attendance and setting off a raucous celebration on the Belarus bench.

Belarus is right back to action on Monday night, taking on Russia at 8 p.m. MST, while Canada West returns to the ice on Tuesday night when they face Russia, also an 8 p.m. MST start.

That was a big surprise. Canada West is one contenders to win the whole thing. Today's action Germany vs. Canada East and Belarus vs. Russia.

Another strong weekend for the National Team Development Program as the Under-18 squad defeated Harvard 4-0. Ryan Bourque (UNH), Kyle Palmieri (Notre Dame), A.J. Treais (Michigan), and John Henrion (UNH) were the goal scorers. Palmieri, Treais, Jerry D'Amigo (RPI), Brendan Rempel (Harvard), John Rampage, Chris McCarty (BC), and Richie Crowley.

The Under 17 squad defeated the Motor City Machine 4-0 on Friday night. Jason Zucker (Denver), Nick Shore, Stuart Higgins (Maine), and Frankie Simonelli tallied the goals. Assists went to Stephan Johns, Zucker, Austin Czarnik. Saturday night they doubled up the Macchine 6-3. Michael Mersch (Wisconsin), Emerson Etem, Higgins, (Michigan), Luke Moffatt, Jacob Fallon (Michigan), and Zucker added the goals. Adam Clendening (BC), Jarred Tinordi, and Fallon had two assists. Matthew Nieto, Shane Sooth, Mersch, and Frankie Simonelli each added an assist.

That's My Take

(Nathan also is a writer for Maineiacs Post to Post and the Maine Hockey Journal. He can be reached at