While the Trail Smoke Eaters miss Ross Armour’s goal-scoring prowess, Team Canada West reaped its rewards on Wednesday as the Rossland native sparked the team to a 4-3 overtime victory over Team Canada East in the quarter final of the World Junior A Challenge in Truro, N.S.
Trailing 3-2 in the third period to Canada East, Armour tied the game on a power play, then scored 42 seconds into the 10-minute four-on-four overtime to send Canada West to the semifinal match against the Czech Republic.
“It’s a pretty good feeling,” said Armour. “It was a fortunate bounce – Angus Crookshank made a good forecheck there and I was fortunate enough to get that goal.”
Armour stripped Team Canada East defender Aidan Girduckis of the puck at centre ice, burst in all alone and roofed a snap shot over the glove of Canada East goalie Jett Alexander for the game winner at 9:18 of the OT.
Following round-robin losses to the Czechs and the U.S.A., Canada West was in must-win territory against a second-seeded Canada East team that went 1-1 in the round robin with a win over Switzerland and a loss to Russia in its pool.
But West dominated the first two periods and goals from Jarrod Gurley (AJHL) and the Nanaimo Clippers’ Carter Turnbull gave Team West a 2-1 lead heading into the third as West outshot East 23-14 through two.
The East pushed back in the third and Nick Campoli tied the game on the power play at 2:31, tucking a loose puck past Victoria Grizzly netminder Zach Rose at the side of the net. Canada East’s Jack McBain finished off a three-on-two by popping the water bottle just 21 seconds later to put the easterners ahead 3-2 for the first time.
However, with just under seven minutes to play, Trail Smoke Eater defender Seth Barton worked the puck down low to Canada West forward Ethan de Jong (Prince George Spruce Kings) who found Armour in the slot and the Bemidji State commit wired it over the shoulder of Alexander to force overtime.
“Our line has been playing really well, we’ve been clicking,” said Armour in a release. “The guys have been getting me the puck and I’ve been fortunate to get lucky bounces, and the puck’s been going into the net.”
West outshot the East 37-21. Armour was also named Player of the Game for Canada West and was awarded the ‘Western Way’ cowboy hat by his teammates after the game. Armour’s play has been outstanding and will likely generate even more interest from pro scouts, but the opportunity to play in the World Jr. A Challenge has been a unique and special one.
“Truro is an awesome city,” added Armour, “And it [Playing at the World Junior A Challenge] is an incredible experience.”
Barton also has emerged as a key contributor for Canada West, logging a lot of ice time and playing crucial minutes on special teams.
In the other quarter-final match, the U.S.A. defeated Switzerland 3-1, and will play Russia in the semifinal.
Team Canada West lost to the Czech Republic 5-2 in Sunday’s opening round-robin match, and played the top-seeded Czechs again in the other semifinal on Thursday evening, but the score was unavailable at press time. The winners will go on to play in the final on Saturday at 3 p.m. AST.