Canada opens U SPORTS series with shootout win

Steven Ellis13 Dec 2018Steven Ellis»
 

Team Canada began their 2019 World Junior hunt with a 3-2 shootout victory over the U SPORTS selects all-star team, with Jack Studnicka scoring both regulation goals for the Canadians in the win.

 
 
 
 

Team Canada began their 2019 World Junior hunt with a 3-2 shootout victory over the U SPORTS selects all-star team, with Jack Studnicka scoring both regulation goals for the Canadians in the win.

While most of the players on the U SPORTS roster won’t play in the NHL, that doesn’t mean Canada typically dominates these mini-series. In fact, U SPORTS won a pair of games at last year’s pre-tournament exercise and the players are older and more experienced than the group that Canada brought to Victoria.

That being said, however, it didn’t take long for Canada to score the first goal of the game. At 6:26 after U SPORTS found themselves pinching in too much, Morgan Frost caught Jack Studnicka streaking down the ice. Studnicka would break in all alone, easily beating Matthew Villalta to make it 1-0 for the junior national team, the only goal of the opening period.

At 1:56 in the second, U SPORTS would knot the game at one. Nikolas Brouillard would find Christopher Clapperton in close to the net, with the latter forward beating Michael Dipietro to give U SPORTS their first goal of the game.

But the tie game wouldn’t last long. At 6:13 on the power play, Nicolas Beaudin and Morgan Frost made some great passes before getting the puck to Studnicka, who scored his second of the night to make it 2-1 for the Canadians.

The win looked safe for Canada until the final minute of play. With just 8.1 seconds remaining, Luke Philp would send the game to overtime after tapping in a rebound in close, forcing a sudden-death situation for the victory. Nothing could be solved there, but after goals to Alex Lafreniere, Morgan Frost and Joseph Veleno, Shane Bowers would finish off the game with a quick little forehand-backhand move, beating Villalta to win the game for Canada.

Overtime was marred by a potential knee injury to Alex Formenton, one of Canada's key returning players. Formenton started the year in the NHL with the Ottawa Senators, but entered the World Junior camp with 16 points in 13 games with the OHL's London Knights, Last year, Formenton had four points at the World Juniors and was expected to play a key top-six role this time around. 

The two teams will meet on Thursday night for the second of three meetings in Victoria this week, with puck drop again set for 6:00 PM PT.

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