YARMOUTH, Nova Scotia - Shane Eiserman (West Newbury, Mass.) scored midway through the third period to break a 2-2 tie and the U.S. Junior Select Team added an empty-net goal to seal a 4-2 victory over Canada East tonight at the World Junior A Challenge. The victory clinched Group A for the U.S., which will face either Switzerland or Canada East in the semifinals on Friday (Nov. 8).
"We battled through some adversity tonight and found a way to win in the third period," said Derek Lalonde, head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team. "Canada East played well, but our special teams was the difference again. We scored an important power-play goal and stopped all six Canadian power plays."
Karson Kuhlman (Cloquet, Minn.) opened the scoring by burying a rebound on the power play at 14:34 of the first period. Nick Schmaltz (Verona, Wis.) took the initial shot from between the circles and the puck caromed left onto the stick of Kuhlman.
Team USA made it 2-0 at 1:20 of the second period. Kuhlman won an offensive zone draw to Schmaltz, who carried the puck towards the right corner. Schmaltz sent a pass back towards the faceoff dot where Kuhlman one-timed the puck into the net.
Canada East cut USA's lead in half at 6:12 of the second stanza on a shot from the left wing.
At 9:10 of the third period, Canada East knotted the game at 2-2 by capitalizing on a point-blank opportunity.
Fifty-seven seconds later, Eiserman put Team USA back on top for good. Marcel Godbout (Center Line, Mich.) started the play by flipping a pass high out of the U.S. end into Canadian territory. Eiserman won a race to the bouncing puck, held off a defenseman and wristed the puck low past the goaltender.
With 45 seconds remaining, Kuhlman slid to block a point shot, which led to an empty-net tally by Seamus Malone (Naperville, Ill.) to seal the win.
Goaltender Chris Birdsall (Glen Rock, N.J.) stopped 24-of-26 shots for the victory. Canada East netminder Jordan Piccolino had 24 saves.
Team USA will play in the semifinals on Friday (Nov. 8) against the winner of the Switzerland-Canada East quarterfinal game. Start time will be 3:00 or 7:00 p.m. EST. All tournament games will be streamed live at FASTHockey.com. Those interested in watching should sign up for a free account in advance at USAHockey.FASTHockey.com.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)