By Jason La Rose, Hockey Canada
DAWSON CREEK, B.C. – Devon Levi (Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Que./Carleton Place, CCHL) was absolutely spectacular, making 41 saves in regulation and overtime, stopping all four attempts in the shootout and backstopping Canada into the gold medal game at the 2019 World Junior A Challenge with a 2-1 semifinal win over the United States on Saturday afternoon.
Representing the NOJHL on Canada East are forward Nicholas DeGrazia (Rayside-Balfour Canadians), goaltender Owen Say (Powassan Voodoos); assistant coach Corey Beer (Timmins Rock) and equipment manager J.J. Johnson (Powassan Voodoos).
The Canadians will play for gold for the first time since 2016; they will face either the Czech Republic or Russia in the final on Sunday night (5 p.m. MT, TSN2). East has never won the WJAC, finishing as runner-up in 2006, 2007, 2010, 2011 and 2016.
Ryan Alexander (Toronto, Ont./St. Michael’s, OJHL) and Charles Tremblay (Sainte-Félicien, Longueuil, LHJAAAQ) scored in the shootout, while Ryland Mosley (Arnprior, Ont./Carleton Place, CCHL) netted the lone Canadian marker in regulation time.
Levin stared down an offence that had scored 14 goals in its last two games, holding it goalless for more than 40 minutes, and turned away the top three scorers in the tournament – Brendan Brisson, Gunnarwolfe Fontaine and Sean Farrell – in the shootout.
Alexander made good on the second Canadian attempt, beating U.S. goaltender Logan Stein low along the ice, and Tremblay scored a similar goal two shooters later to put the pressure squarely on the Americans.
Farrell was the last chance for the defending champions, but Levi calmly turned away his shot to send the Canadians pouring off the bench.
Levi and Stein were the story from start to finish, with each allowing just a single goal in 70 minutes of work.
Mosley gave the Canadians the lead 98 seconds into the second period, finding a loose puck off a wild scramble in the U.S. crease and beating Stein, but Fontaine redirected a pass from Farrell past Levi only 24 ticks into the third to tie the game.
Shots on goal favoured the U.S. 42-25, including 19-6 in the third period and overtime.
The Americans, who won’t appear in the gold medal game for just the second time in eight years, will take on the loser of the second semifinal for bronze on Sunday (12 p.m. MT, TSN2).
Photo credit: Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada Images