Canada West did the improbable Sunday, knocking off Canada East 4-2 to win the World Junior A Challenge on Sunday night.
Castlegar’s Aaron Hadley scored his third goal of the tournament in the third period, an insurance marker that propelled Canada West to gold.
Cowichan Valley’s Alex Kerfoot scored once and added an assist to give Canada West a 2-0 lead midway through the second period and Carson Cooper (AJHL) scored the game-winner on a power play 40 seconds into the third as Canada West claimed its third gold medal.
All three of Canada West’s gold medals have come at the expense of Canada East – West topped East 4-3 at the inaugural WJAC in Yorkton, Sask., in 2006 before winning by a 4-1 score at the Cominco Arena in Trail, one year later.
Evan Richardson (Powell River) opened the scoring 74 seconds into the second period and Hadley (Vernon) added insurance for Canada West 2:33 into the third to help West become the first team to ever win gold after going winless in the preliminary round.
The team dropped round robin games to Sweden, 2-0, and the U.S., 6-1, to finish last in their pool before turning the tournament around.
They beat the Czech Republic 4-1 in the quarter final and upset Sweden in overtime 2-1 to take the semifinal and advance. Canada East beat the U.S. 4-2 in the other semi.
Michael Neville and Daniel Milne scored the goals for East, which settled for silver for the fourth time in six years – in addition to losses to Canada West in 2006 and 2007, it also came up short against the U.S. last year in Penticton.
The two teams combined for just one penalty – a slashing minor against East’s Tyson Spink that led to Cooper’s winning goal – setting a pair of WJAC records: fewest penalty minutes by one team (0, by Canada West) and fewest combined penalty minutes by both teams (two).
Hadley finished seventh in the tournament scoring overall with three goals in five games while the Penticton Vees’ Travis St. Denis of Trail netted a goal and an assist.
Following the game, Kerfoot and Canada West goaltender Sean Maguire (Powell River, BCHL), along with Canada East forward Devin Shore (OJHL) and defenceman Kevin Lough (CCHL), U.S. forward Mario Lucia, a linemate of St. Denis’ in Penticton, and Swedish defenceman Ludwig Bystrom were named to the tournament all-star team.
Shore, who finished with a tournament co-leading six points, was named World Junior A Challenge MVP.