The United States defeated rival Canada, 4-2, to win its opening game at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland, Saturday.
Buffalo Sabres draft pick Will Borgen (St. Cloud State) set up the game-winning goal. With 3:18 left in regulation and the teams tied, 2-2, Borgen sent a pass to Louie Belpedio, whose shot from the point deflected off a Canadian defenseman’s stick and into the net. Less than a minute later, Auston Matthews extended the U.S. lead to 4-2 when he pushed home a loose puck in the crease.
“I liked our effort overall,” said Ron Wilson, U.S. head coach. “It’s just the first game, but certainly a good way to begin the tournament.”
Canada took a 1-0 lead at 5:06 of the second when Matt Barzal scored on a rebound. The Americans tied the game with 3:27 left in the second when Colin White flipped in a backhand.
The U.S. took its first lead when Zach Werenski scored on the power play at 7:22 of the third period. Three minutes later, however, Canada responded with a power-play goal to even the score at 2-2.
The U.S. continues preliminary round play at 9 a.m. (EST) Monday against Sweden while Canada plays Denmark at 1 p.m.
In other games on the tournament’s opening day:
• Sweden thumped Switzerland, 8-3, but there was plenty of bad blood after the game with two of Sweden’s best players, William Nylander and Adrian Kempe, leaving after hits to the head. Nylander, a 19-year old forward and 2014 first-round draft pick of the Toronto Maple Leafs, had 34 points through just 27 games with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies.
• Finland’s line of Sebastian Aho, Patrik Laine and Jesse Puljujarvi combined for six points in a 6-0 win over Belarus.
• Russia needed a shootout to defeat the Czech Republic, 2-1.