World Junior A Challenge recap: Latvia upset Sweden, West win battle for Canada

Latvia picked up a shock victory to beat Sweden, while Canada West managed to beat Canada East on day two of play at the World Junior A Challenge in Cornwall:

West wins Battle of Canada

Power play prowess was the difference as Canada West scored three times on the power play to win 6-3 over Canada East.

Momentum was hard to come by on Monday, with teams trading goals all night. Patrick Saini scored Canada East’s first goal on the power play at 3:35, with a lead that lasted until Liam Watkins fired a shot past Ethan Morrow for the 1-1 goal. Lucas Buzziol gave Canada East its second lead of the game with seven minutes left on a secondary scoring chance to make it 2-1 to close out the first stanza.

Hudson Malinoski was the difference maker for Canada West and scored the first of his two goals in an overtime 5-on-3. At 31:37, he caught a flying puck off a shot from Aiden Fink and made it 2-2, a surprise at that.

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Before the power play was completely over, Conyr Hellyer got one from close range to give the Whites their first lead of the game, but it didn’t last long. That’s because a minute later, Andy Reist’s power-play goal shook things up and tied the game at three. That gave East some momentum late in the first, but Malinoski’s second of the night stunned Morrow and put West back in front. A second goal from Watkins – giving him four in the tournament – and an empty net from Caelan Fitzpatrick helped seal the deal for Canada West, who became the first team with a perfect record after two games.

Latvia surprise with victory over Sweden

Despite leading 2-0 early in the game, Latvia managed to pull off a shocking 3-2 overtime win over Sweden for the team’s first WJAC win.

Latvian goaltender Aksels Ozols, who was a star against Canada East on Sunday, made 35 saves in the win. It didn’t start well, however, as goals from Elliot Stahlberg and Otto Stenberg netted a goal apiece in the first to make it 2-0 over Sweden – a lead that lasted until the 45th minute.

It was then that Latvia took advantage of a numerical advantage. Kristers Ansons, a 2024 NHL Draft prospect, only for Toms Mots to tie the game with nine minutes left in third. The Swedes couldn’t generate anything in the extra frame, and Mots instead scored the game-winning goal to claim the shock victory over a hopeful Swedish side in the 2023 NHL Draft.

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Three stars

  1. Toms Words, F (Latvia): I can’t imagine many predicted Latvia would beat Sweden, but Mots’ two goals turned out to be the difference.
  2. Hudson Malinoski, F (Canada West): With two goals, including the equalizer and the eventual winner, Malinoski was on his game on Monday.
  3. Aksels Kzols, G (Latvia): It’s difficult to play back to back as a goalkeeper, but he was spectacular in both outings.

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