World Junior A Challenge: Former Smoke Eater coaches Canada West to title

Former Trail Smoke Eater player Tim Fragle coached Team Canada West to the World Junior A Challenge title on Saturday.

Former Trail Smoke Eater player Tim Fragle coached Team Canada West to the World Junior A Challenge  title on Saturday.

For the fourth time in the tournament’s 10-year history, Team Canada West won the gold medal, defeating Russia 2-1 in the gold-medal game at the Cobourg Community Centre.

After a scoreless first two periods, Bobby McMann took advantage of a turnover deep in the Russian zone to open the scoring early in the third, Tyson Jost of the Penticton Vees scored the eventual game-winner with three minutes to go, and the Canadians held off a late Russian push, backed by 26 saves from Spruce Grove goalie Matthew Murray.

“When [the Russians] played us in exhibition I don’t think they were prepared for us, but today they were a different team” said Canada West defenceman Cale Makar from the Brooks Bandits of the Alberta Junior Hockey League. “I think our speed and physicality wore them down, and that’s the reason we got gold.

“I thought [the Russians] did a great job blocking shots. The first time we played them they didn’t get in the lanes; tonight they did, and their goalie was exceptional,” said Fragle who coaches the Sherwood Park Crusaders in the AJHL. “We were trying to shoot from different angles and make it difficult on him. It’s an unbelievable feeling right now; after all the work we put as a staff, and the players, it feels very good to be rewarded.”

“We can’t say thank-you enough to our volunteers and the host committees in both communities, as well as the incredible support we received from Hockey Canada and the Ontario Junior Hockey League,” said Marc Mercier, co-chair of the Cobourg organizing committee. “The Towns of Cobourg and Whitby can be proud of how they welcomed the world; this was a terrific event, the fans went home happy, and the players and team staff members had an amazing experience they will not forget.”

On Friday night, the United States defeated Team Canada East 7-1 in the bronze-medal game in Whitby, Ont. Lucas Batt (Lewisporte, N.L./Carleton Place, CCHL) scored for the Canadians late in the second period, but the Americans won a medal for the ninth year in a row.

Following Saturday’s gold-medal game, the World Junior A Challenge MVP and tournament all-star team were announced:

World Junior A Challenge MVP:

Tyson Jost (Canada West)

Tournament All-Star Team:

Goaltender: Mikhail Berdin (Russia)

Defence: Keegan Ford (United States)

Defence: Cale Makar (Canada West)

Forward: Tyson Jost (Canada West)

Forward: German Rubtsov (Russia)

Forward: Max Zimmer (United States)