For the fourth time in the tournament’s 10-year history, Team Canada West is the gold medal winner at the World Junior A Challenge.
Helped by Chilliwack Chiefs defenceman Dennis Cholowski, Canada West defeated Russia 2-1 in Saturday’s gold-medal game at the Cobourg Community Centre in Cobourg, ON.
After a scoreless first two periods, Bobby McMann (Bonnyville, AJHL) took advantage of a turnover deep in the Russian zone to open the scoring early in the third.
Penticton Vees star Tyson Jost (Penticton, BCHL) scored the eventual game-winner with three minutes to go, and the Canadians held off a late Russian push, backed by 26 saves from goaltender Matthew Murray (Spruce Grove, AJHL).
“When [the Russians] played us in exhibition I don’t think they were prepared for us, but today they were a different team” said Canada West defenceman Cale Makar (Brooks, AJHL). “I think our speed and physicality wore them down, and that’s the reason we got gold.
“I thought [the Russians] did a great job blocking shots. The first time we played them they didn’t get in the lanes,” added Canada West bench boss Tim Fragle. “Tonight they did, and their goalie was exceptional. We were trying to shoot from different angles and make it difficult on him. It’s an unbelievable feeling right now; after all the work we put as a staff, and the players, it feels very good to be rewarded.”
On Friday night, the United States defeated Team Canada East 7-1 in the bronze-medal game in Whitby, ON.
Lucas Batt (Carleton Place, CCHL) scored for the Canadians late in the second period, but the Americans won a medal for the ninth year in a row.
Eight of the 10 gold-medal games at the World Junior A Challenge have featured at least one Canadian team. Team Canada West won gold at the first two tournaments, in 2006 and 2007, and also took the top prize in 2011 and 2015. The team also earned silver in 2008, 2009, and 2012, and won bronze in 2013. Team Canada East earned silver medals in 2006, 2007, 2010 and 2011, and claimed bronze in 2008.
— Jost was named the tournament MVP and was also named to the tourney all-star team.