YARMOUTH, Nova Scotia - Shane Eiserman (West Newbury, Mass.) scored midway through the third period to break a 2-2 tie and the U.S. Junior Select Team added an empty-net goal to seal a 4-2 victory over Canada East tonight at the World Junior A Challenge. The victory clinched Group A for the U.S., which will face either Switzerland or Canada East in the semifinals on Friday (Nov. 8).
"We battled through some adversity tonight and found a way to win in the third period," said Derek Lalonde, head coach of the U.S. Junior Select Team. "Canada East played well, but our special teams was the difference again. We scored an important power-play goal and stopped all six Canadian power plays."
Karson Kuhlman (Cloquet, Minn.) opened the scoring by burying a rebound on the power play at 14:34 of the first period. Nick Schmaltz (Verona, Wis.) took the initial shot from between the circles and the puck caromed left onto the stick of Kuhlman.
Team USA made it 2-0 at 1:20 of the second period. Kuhlman won an offensive zone draw to Schmaltz, who carried the puck towards the right corner. Schmaltz sent a pass back towards the faceoff dot where Kuhlman one-timed the puck into the net.
Canada East cut USA's lead in half at 6:12 of the second stanza on a shot from the left wing.
At 9:10 of the third period, Canada East knotted the game at 2-2 by capitalizing on a point-blank opportunity.
Fifty-seven seconds later, Eiserman put Team USA back on top for good. Marcel Godbout (Center Line, Mich.) started the play by flipping a pass high out of the U.S. end into Canadian territory. Eiserman won a race to the bouncing puck, held off a defenseman and wristed the puck low past the goaltender.
With 45 seconds remaining, Kuhlman slid to block a point shot, which led to an empty-net tally by Seamus Malone (Naperville, Ill.) to seal the win.
Goaltender Chris Birdsall (Glen Rock, N.J.) stopped 24-of-26 shots for the victory. Canada East netminder Jordan Piccolino had 24 saves.
Team USA will play in the semifinals on Friday (Nov. 8) against the winner of the Switzerland-Canada East quarterfinal game. Start time will be 3:00 or 7:00 p.m. EST. All tournament games will be streamed live at FASTHockey.com. Those interested in watching should sign up for a free account in advance at USAHockey.FASTHockey.com.
NOTES: Team USA's captain is Dennis Kravchenko (San Clemente, Calif.), while the alternate captains are C.J. Franklin (Forest Lake, Minn.) and Karson Kuhlman (Cloquet, Minn.) ... The World Junior A Challenge is in its eighth year and the United States is competing for the seventh time … Team USA has won four of the last five tournaments (2008-10, '12) … The 2013 field includes Canada East, Canada West, Czech Republic, Russia, Switzerland and the United States … The official event website is available here ... All players on the U.S. roster, which includes 13 forwards, seven defenseman and two goaltenders, compete in the United States Hockey League. For the complete roster, click here … The 22 players represent 10 states. Eight players hail from Minnesota, while Michigan has four players and California and New Jersey have two apiece. Other states include Illinois, Iowa, Massachusetts, Missouri, South Dakota and Wisconsin ... Two players on the roster are eligible for the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, including goaltender Chris Birdsall (Glen Rock, N.J.) and forward Kyle Connor (Shelby Twp, Mich.) ... All 22 players are verbally committed to attend NCAA Division I hockey programs in the future ... Thirteen USHL teams are represented. Leading the way are the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, Dubuque Fighting Saints, Green Bay Gamblers and Sioux Falls Stampede, which have three players each ... Derek Lalonde (Brasher Falls, N.Y.), head coach and general manager of the USHL's Green Bay Gamblers, is the head coach for the 2013 U.S. Junior Select Team ... The assistant coaches are Anthony Noreen (Chicago, Ill.) and Mark Abalan (Green Bay, Wis.). Noreen is the head coach and general manager for the USHL's Youngstown Phantoms, while Abalan is an assistant coach for the USHL's Sioux City Musketeers. Additional team staff includes Team Manager Marc Boxer (Colorado Springs, Colo.) of USA Hockey, Equipment Manager Darrin Flinchem (Indianapolis, Ind.) of the Indiana Ice, Athletic Trainer Steve Bagus (Oak Lawn, Ill.) of the Chicago Steel and Team Physician Dr. Alan Ashare (Boston, Mass).
Tag(s): World Jr. A Challenge