On the heels of an unexpected upset loss (3-2) to Slovakia yesterday, team USA battled back from a 3-1 deficit in the third period to tie the game at 3-goals apiece and force overtime, then scored the only two shootout goals to take a 4-3 shootout victory over team Canada in front of 44,592 fans who braved blizzard conditions at the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation U20 World Junior Championships at New Era Field in Orchard Park, NY outside of Buffalo this afternoon.
USA forward's Kiefer Bellows (Portland Winterhawks, WHL) and Brady Tkachuk (Boston U.) scored the first two shootout goals for the Americans, before team Canada goal tender Carter Hart (Everett Silvertips, WHL) turned away Casey Mittelstadt (U. of Minnesota) while team USA goal tender Jake Oettinger (Boston U.) turned away all three Canada shooters for the win.
Canada took the early lead after a high sticking penalty to USA defenseman Dylan Samberg (Minnesota Duluth) in the first couple minutes of the game led to a power play goal from team Canada defenseman Cale Makar (UMass-Amherst) with an assist from forward Robert Thomas (London Knights, OHL) giving team Canada a 1-0 lead at 4:13 of the first period.
The Canadians extended its lead with another power play goal later in the period when forward Dillon Dube (Kelowna Rockets, WHL) converted a power play goal with an assist coming from Sam Steel (Regina Pats, WHL) at 15:17 of the second period, giving team Canada a 2-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
USA showed some life after a lucky break late in the second period when two different Canadian players were each whistled for respective 2-minute minor penalties (cross check, slashing) on the same play, giving the U.S. a two-man advantage, as Bellows banged home the power play goal with assists from Mittelstadt and Oettinger, cutting into team Canada's lead (2-1) at 16:27 of the second period.
Team Canada, however, would answer just 72-seconds later when forward Boris Katchouk (Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, OHL) redirected a Jake Bean (Calgary Hitmen, WHL) shot from the point to give Canada a 3-1 lead at 17:39 of the second period.
Nearly 5-minutes into the final period, team USA went on the power play after a dangerous boarding penalty by Canada after the whistle on a U.S. icing call, setting up a tally from USA defenseman Scott Perunovich (Minnesota Duluth) who buried a power play goal on an assist from Mittelstadt, cutting Canada's lead to 3-2 at 6:09 of the third period.
Just 34-seconds following the Perunovich goal, USA forward Brady Tkachuk (Boston U.) scored the equalizer with an assist from Mittelstadt to tie the game at 3-goals apiece at 6:43 of the third period, eventually leading to overtime.
Mittelstadt paced the Americans with 3-assists, while Bellows (whose shootout goal was awarded as the game winning goal) finished with 2-goals, followed by Tkachuk (1-goal, 1-shootout goal) and Perunovich who also scored.
Team Canada, who has 2-wins and 1-OTL, still leads group-A with 7-points and can clinch the top spot in the group (10-points) with a win over Denmark at 8 pm tomorrow night at the Key Bank Center in Buffalo, NY.
After coming in as the tournament favorite, team USA, can only finish in second place in group-A following yesterday's loss to Slovakia, so, despite the big win today, the Americans still only have 5-points in group-A after 1-win (3-points), 1-loss, and today's overtime shootout win (2-points) however, team USA could lock up second place in the group with a (3-points) win over Finland at 4 pm on Sunday afternoon at Key Bank Center in Buffalo, NY.
The top 4-teams from group-A and the top 4-teams from group-B all advance to the elimination round quarter finals, which start on Tuesday Jan. 2, at the Key Bank Center and the Harbor Center, both in Buffalo, NY.