WJC: United States wins outdoor matchup with Canada in a shootout

December 29, 2017

Nearly 10 years after the 2008 Winter Classic took place at Ralph Wilson Stadium, now known as New Era Field, outdoor hockey returned to Orchard Park as the United States and Canada squared off on Friday afternoon as part of 2018 IIHF Under-20 World Junior Championship.

After suffering a 3-2 loss to Slovakia on Thursday night, the United States nearly found themselves on the losing end of things just under 24 hours later against the Canadians. However, they storm back from down 3-1 in the third period to tie the game and force overtime. After an extra five minutes were not enough, the game headed to a five-round shootout where Kieffer Bellows (New York Islanders) and Brady Tkachuk (2018 NHL Draft Eligible) scored to lift the Americans to a 4-3 win.

Buffalo Sabres prospect Casey Mittelstadt was the star of the night once again for Team USA, registering primary assists on all three of the United States' goals in regulation. While the 19-year old did not register any shots on goal, he was a team-high 52.9-percent on his faceoffs in 24:57 of total ice-time. His efforts on Friday night was enough to earn him the Player of the Game honors for the U.S. for the second time in the tournament.

The game started in Orchard Park with mostly cloudy skies and the temperature at a brisk 17-degrees Farenheit. The weather would not stay that way, however, as they changed throughout the entirety of the game.

The United States got into some early penalty troubles as defenseman Dylan Samberg (Winnipeg Jets) took an early high-sticking penalty to give the dangerous Canadians an early chance. With 20-seconds to go in the man-advantage, defenseman Cale Makar (Colorado Avalanche) placed a shot on goal that found its way through the five-hole of USA goalie Jake Oettinger (Dallas Star). Makar's goal was his first of the tournament.

As the period progressed, the snow started to fall at New Era Field and began to gradually pick up.

More penalty trouble for the United States later in the period as defenseman Mikey Anderson (Los Angeles Kings) ended up taking a holding the stick penalty at the 14:24 mark. Canada made the U.S. pay just 53-seconds later as Dillon Dube (Calgary Flames) gets the puck from the faceoff circle and rips a shot that beats Oettinger high, short-side to give the Canadians a 2-0 lead. The goal was Dube's first goal of the tournament.

The United States put up some good pressure in the period, out-shooting the Canadians 11-9 in the first, but still trailed by two heading into the first intermission.

At the start of the second period, the snow started to fall a little bit harder and with more consistency, making conditions on the ice more difficult for players to maneuver the puck.

Canada came out of the gate with a couple of good chances to take full control of the game early in the period. After defenseman Victor Mete (Montreal Canadiens) served a hooking penalty to start the period, he stepped out of the box only to go in on a breakaway. Mete tried to beat Oettinger low on his chance, but the U.S. goalie made a right pad save to keep the puck out of the net. About seven minutes later, forward Drake Batherson (Ottawa Senators) found defenseman Kale Clague (Kings) streaking into the zone from the blue line, but Oettinger got across to make another pad save.

The United States finally broke through later in the second period after the Canadians were called for two separate penalties to give the Americans a two-minute 5-on-3 powerplay. It was Mittelstadt who entered the zone along the near boards just 1:15 into the powerplay, and he spun and found a wide-open Bellows at the point. Bellows had a lot of time to wind up and let a shot go of a slapshot that beat Canadian goalie Carter Hart (Philadelphia Flyers) on the glove side. It was Bellows' third goal of the tournament, and first goal since opening night against Denmark.

However, Canada responded just 1:12 later as Boris Katchouk (Tampa Bay Lightning) tipped in a shot from defenseman Jake Bean (Carolina Hurricanes) to give the Canadians their two-goal lead back again.

The U.S. kept the pressure up with 13 shots in the period, despite the heavy snow that made things difficult for the players on the ice and the crew trying to clean up the ice. Canada held on to their two-goal lead after 40 minutes of play, but the Americans were not dead yet.

Just 4:24 into the third period, Canadian forward Maxime Comtois (Anaheim Ducks) got called for a dangerous boarding penalty on U.S. defenseman Ryan Lindgren (Boston Bruins). Lindgren was lucky not to get a five-minute major and a game misconduct, but the Americans made him regret the penalty anyways.

With time ticking down on the penalty to Comtois, the U.S. started a nifty passing play between Mittelstadt, Tkachuk and Scott Perunovich to generate a goal for the defenseman. Perunovich got the original pass from Tkachuk along the boards and gave it over to Mittelstadt on his left. Mittelstadt then gave it back to Perunovich, who let go of a quick shot that beat Hart, out of position for the goal.

Just 44-seconds later, Mittelstadt and Tkachuk were at it again in the Canadian end. Tkachuk threw a back-pass around the boards to Mittelstadt coming in behind the Canadian net. Mittelstadt then fed it in front to Tkachuk, who tailed back in from the boards, and the youngster made no mistake for his second goal of the tournament.

After the ten-minute mark of the period, the goalies switched sides as the weather continued to play a factor in this game.

Finally, with time running out in the final period, the weather begins to let up, which brought up the pace of play for the final couple of minutes. With time ticking down in the final minute of regulation, Tkachuk had a great chance to end the game off another feed from Mittelstadt, but his shot ended up going high on Hart.

Time ended up running out in regulation, and overtime was needed to decide a winner. The U.S. dominated the Canadians again in the third period, controlling the pace of play and out-shooting them by an 8-6 total.

Both teams traded some quality chances in overtime, with Canada getting a couple of the high-dangerous chances, but the five minutes of bonus hockey ended with the score still tied at 3-3. That required some more bonus hockey with a five-round shootout.

Canada would shoot first in the shootout, but Sam Steel (Ducks) rang his shot off the post in behind Oettinger. The Americans sent Bellows out to shoot first for Team USA, and Bellows scored through the five-hole to give his team the early advantage. Aftert Robert Thomas (St. Louis Blues) is stopped on his shootout attempt, Tkachuk goes out and scores on Hart to give the Americans the 2-0 advantage.

Oettinger only needed to stop the next two Canadian shooters, but both Taylor Raddysh (Lightning) and Batherson miss the net to hand the United States the extra point in the Group A standings.

Canada still sits atop of Group A with seven points after three games played, while the United States are now up to five point after the win on Friday.

Game Summary

Goal Summary:

First Period:
CAN: 4:23 - Cale Makar (1) PP (Robert Thomas); 15:17 - Dillon Dube (1) PP (Sam Steel)

Second Period:
16:27 - Keiffer Bellows (3) PP (Casey Mittelstadt, Jake Oettinger)
CAN: 17:39 - Boris Katchouk (2) (Jake Bean)

Third Period:
6:09 - Scott Perunovich (1) PP (Casey Mittelstadt); 6:43 - Brady Tkachuk (2) (Casey Mittelstadt)



CAN: Sam Steel - Post
USA: Kieffer Bellows - GOAL (4)
CAN: Robert Thomas - Saved
USA: Keith Tkachuk - GOAL
CAN: Taylor Raddysh - Miss
USA: Casey Mittelstadt - Miss
CAN: Drake Batherson - Miss

Penalty Summary:

First Period:
 2:43 - Dylan Samberg - High-sticking (2 min.); 14:24 - Mikey Anderson - Holding the Stick (2 min.)
CAN: 7:43 - Jonah Gadjovich - Boarding (2 min.); 15:41 - Maxime Comtois - Tripping (2 min.); 19:57 - Victor Mete - Hooking (2 min.)

Second Period:
CAN: 15:12 - Brett Howden - Cross-checking (2 min.); 15:12 - Alex Formenton - Slashing (2 min.)

Third Period:
USA: 7:30 - Quinn Hughes - Slashing (2 min.)
CAN: 4:54 - Maxime Comtois - Boarding (2 min.)


Shots on Goal:

First Period: 11-9 USA
Second Period: 13-5 USA (24-14 USA)
Third Period: 8-6 USA (32-20 USA)
Overtime: 3-2 USA (35-22 USA)
 1-0 USA (36-22 USA)


USA: Jake Oettinger - 19 saves
CAN: Carter Hart - 32 saves

Power Plays:

USA: 2 for 6 (20%)
CAN: 2 for 3 (100%)

Players of the Game:

USA: Casey Mittelstadt
CAN: Carter Hart

What's Next:

Team Canada will close out their preliminary round against Denmark on Saturday night at KeyBank Center. Any type of Canadian win on Saturday will give them the top seed in Group A.

The United States will close out their preliminary round action with a meeting against Finland on Sunday at 4 p.m. at KeyBank Center.