PENTICTON, B.C. – Nick Huard scored twice and added an assist and Jordan Ruby made 39 saves as Canada East advanced to the gold medal game at the World Junior A Challenge for the first time since 2007 with a 4-2 semifinal win over Switzerland on Saturday afternoon.
Huard and Ruby are the only two players on the Canada East roster who were part of last year’s team in Summerside, P.E.I., which lost 9-1 in the semifinals to Canada West. Thanks to them, there’s guaranteed to be at least one Canadian team on the ice when the gold medal game faces off on Sunday (5:30 p.m. PT, TSN2).
The Swiss, who won both of their preliminary round games and hadn’t played since Tuesday, will play on Sunday afternoon (1:30 p.m. PT) for the bronze medal.
For the second game in a row, Canada East caught a lucky break to open the scoring. With Swiss goaltender Remo Giovannini on the bench for an extra attacker on a delayed penalty, a stickhandling mistake ended up in the empty Swiss goal, with Robert Polesello getting credit.
But Switzerland struck back on the ensuing power play, as Ryan McGregor went short side on Ruby to pull even at 1-1.
Huard and linemate Maxime Dumond took over in the second period, with Dumond setting up Huard for the 2-1 goal at 3:27 before Huard returned the favour exactly three minutes later, pushing the East lead to two after 40 minutes.
Switzerland got one back early in the third, as Gregory Hofmann banked one off Ruby from behind the net, but the Canada East netminder shut the door from there, making 17 saves alone in the third period as the Swiss held an 18-4 advantage in shots on goal.
Huard put the game away with an empty net goal at 19:27, sending Canada East to face the winner of Saturday’s late semifinal between Canada West and the United States.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)