Six different players contributed points in helping the U.S. National Under-17 Team record a hard-fought 3-2 victory over Canada's Team Pacific in the semifinals of the 2008 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge at the John Labatt Centre in Ontario.
"We had good jump out of the gate, and that was important to have against a strong team like Pacific," said Ron Rolston, head coach of the U.S. National Under-17 Team. "We were fortunate to have had a day off yesterday, as they had played three games in three days. That's why they call it a tournament though, because you have to play your best hockey after playing a lot of games in a short period of time."
Team USA lit up the scoreboard first at the 11:31 mark of the opening period as Zach Golembiewski (St. Claire, Mich.) scored off assists from A.J. Treais (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) and Ryan Bourque (Boxford, Mass.). The play started in the neutral zone when Bourque put a tape-to-tape pass on the stick of Treais just inside the Team Pacific blue line. Treais sent a close-range shot on net and Golembiewski was able to whack the puck through the legs of netminder Nathan Lieuwen.
Drew Shore (Denver, Colo.) gave Team USA a two-goal cushion with 51 seconds left in the period, thanks to a helper from Jeremy Morin (Auburn, N.Y.). After Morin left the puck for Shore in the right circle, Shore made a move in the slot and delivered a backhander up high past Lieuwen on the stick side.
The only goal of the second stanza was tallied by Team Pacific's Chase Schaber, on the power play, at the 17:14 mark. Schaber released a shot that deflected off a Team USA defender into the back of the net.
Team USA regained a two-goal cushion a little over a minute into the final session. Kevin Lynch (Grosse Pointe, Mich.) netted what proved to be the game-winning goal with assistance from Tyler Amburgey (Rowlett, Texas). Amburgey released a shot from the right point that was re-directed by Lynch high past Lieuwen on the glove side.
Team Pacific made it a 3-2 game at 19:35 of the third period. After Team USA was whistled for a penalty, Team Pacific pulled Lieuwen to gain a two-man advantage. The move was successful, as Ryan Howse wristed a shot from the bottom of the left circle by Brandon Maxwell (Winter Park, Fla.) into the upper right-hand corner of the net.
From there, the United States withstood several shots from the perimeter, but held on to solidify the win.
Maxwell finished with 24 saves and improved to 4-0-0 in the 2008 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. Lieuwen turned aside 29 shots for Team Pacific.
Team USA is now 4-1-0 at the 2008 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and has secured a berth in the championship game tomorrow, where it will meet Canada's Team Ontario (5-0-0) at the John Labatt Centre. Opening faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m. ET.
NOTES: Cam Fowler (Farmington Hills, Mich.) was recognized as Team USA's Player of the Game for the second time of the tournament ... Jeremy Morin leads Team USA with eight points (six goals, two assists) at the 2008 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, while Drew Shore is second on the squad with seven points (three goals, four assists) ... Kevin Lynch pushed his tournament point total to four (three goals, one assist), and provided his first game-winner of the event ... A.J. Treais has amassed four points (one goal, three assists) in the tournament ... Tyler Amburgey (one assists) and Zach Golembiewski (one goal) each picked up their first points of the event ... Ryan Bourque has three points (two goals, one assist) this week ... Team USA killed off a pair of 5-on-3 Team Pacific power plays tonight ... Bourque is Team USA's captain for the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, while Richie Crowley (Canton, Mass.) and David Valek (Orem, Utah) are alternate captains ... The championship game of the 2008 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge will be televised live by TSN at 7:30 p.m. ET Friday (Jan. 4).