EVELETH, Minn. – Team USA picked up two goals from Eric Stout (Dryden GM Ice Dogs) to help propel his side to a convincing 5-2 victory over Team Canada Wednesday evening at the Superior International Junior Hockey League “Border Battle” All-Star Game at the Hippodrome in Eveleth, Minn.
It didn’t take the SIJHL’s U.S. All-Stars long to get on the board as they broke out of their zone quickly with Jaeden Ness (Fort Frances Lakers) skating hard down the right side before he darted around the net and fed an open Stout in front who calmly fired in the night’s opening tally 85 seconds in past Canadian starter Brock Lefebvre (Thief River Falls Norskies).
The two teams traded quality chances throughout the first frame with the save of the period being made by U.S. starter Rob Ivy (Minnesota Iron Rangers) whose quick glove hand denied Evan Walls (Dryden GM Ice Dogs) off a two-on-one late in the session.
Moving on to the middle stanza, Canada was quick to notch the equalizer with Walls making no mistake on a second opportunity as he was sent in alone on Ivy by Dryden teammates Jacen Bracko and Trevor Kavanaugh and snapped a shot high into the top right-hand corner at the 59-second mark.
The first man-advantage opportunity of the contest allowed Team USA to regain the lead with Stout capitalizing for the second time as his short side shot from the left wing eluded Lefebvre with Peter Grytdahl (Thief River Falls Norskies) earning an assist on the play.
Each team made goaltending changes midway through the night with Michael Lenko (English River Miners) entering for Canada and Tyler Thompson (Minnesota Iron Rangers) for Team USA.
It was the U.S. who had a number of early chances on Lenko, only to be denied on two good attempts, but not on a third as a rebound on a Thompson stop bounced right out to Jared Pedersen (Thief River Falls Norskies) who went in with Alec Daman on a two-on-one with the latter making a quick deke before stuffing in his chance past the outstretched left pad of the Canadian netminder.
Canada did get one back in the waning moments of the frame as English River teammates Ethan Wong and Jared Janke combined to set-up a pinching Connor Bowey (Thief River Falls Norskies) in the slot as he chipped one past Thompson in the U.S. net at 19:41.
A failed clearing attempt early in the third allowed Team USA to go back up by two as Anthony Antonelli’s (Fort Frances Lakers) right point shot was neatly redirected by Ness high over the shoulder of Lenko.
The U.S. then put the game away at 14:34 with Mark Sanchez blowing past a Canadian defender before snapping one through Lenko from a sharp angle to round out the scoring.
Shots on goal in the contest favoured Canada 35-32 with Thompson picking up the win while Lenko suffered the defeat.
CCM Hockey player of the game laurels went to Ivy and Walls.
CANADA TAKES CCM HOCKEY SKILLS COMPETITION
Prior to the SIJHL All-Star Game, it was the Canadian contingent that prevailed in the event’s CCM Hockey Skills Competition by a 5-2 count.
Round 1: Shooting Accuracy (1 point)
Mark Sanchez, Iron Rangers (USA). Hit all four targets with one less shot than Joe Newhouse, North Stars (CAN).
Round 2: Fastest Skater (1 point)
Winner: Keighan Gerrie, North Stars (CAN)
Round 3: Shootout (1 point)
Most goals: Nick Lucas, Lakers (USA)
Most saves: Rob Ivy, Iron Rangers; Tyler Thompson, Iron Rangers (USA)
Round 4: Hardest Shot (1 point)
Winner: Brandan Jay, GM Ice Dogs (CAN) 95 mph
Round 5: Puck Relay (3 points)
Photo credit: Cherie Grams