PENTICTON, B.C. – Jimmy Mullin scored a hat trick, including the game-winner 14 minutes into the second period, as the United States opened defence of its World Junior A Challenge gold medal with a 6-1 win over Canada East on Monday afternoon.
The U.S., which has won the last two WJAC golds, gained a measure of revenge for last year’s tournament-opening lost to the easterners, a game in which it led 4-1 after two periods before watching the Canadians mount a comeback.
After a scoreless opening 20 minutes, Mullin got the Americans on the board first, poking a loose puck past Canada East goaltender Jordan Ruby on a U.S. power play just 77 seconds into the period.
Evan Rodrigues pulled the Canadian side even with a man advantage goal of his own, this one coming with the Americans down two men, but that would be the lone goal to beat U.S. netminder Zane Gothberg, who turned aside 23 of the 24 shots he faced.
Mullin’s second of the game restored the U.S. lead just under four minutes after Rodrigues’ goal, and Max McCormick snapped a shot from the slot past Ruby for a two-goal advantage just 57 seconds after that. Caleb Herbert jumped on a Seth Ambroz rebound with under two minutes to go in the frame, capping off a period that saw the Americans score four times on 13 shots.
The U.S. continued to apply the offensive pressure early in the third period – a point shot from Brian Cooper eluded Ruby at 4:46, and Mullin capped off his hat trick by slipping a backhand around the East goaltender four minutes later, providing the final margin of victory.
Captain Colten St. Clair, Ryan Dzingel and Garrett Allen all chipped in with two assists for the Americans, who will enjoy an off-day Tuesday before facing Sweden on Wednesday afternoon (4 p.m. PT). Canada East, meanwhile, is right back to action Tuesday, facing the Swedes at 4 p.m. PT.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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