FORT FRANCES, Ont. – For a second straight year, Team USA prevailed over Team Canada in the Superior International Junior Hockey League All-Star Game held Wednesday, presented by Seven Generations Education Institute, taking the contest by an 8-6 score at Ice for Kids Arena.
The U.S. would open the night’s scoring in the Border Battle near the midway portion of the first frame as Jaedin Ness (Fort Frances Lakers) went high on Team Canada starter Brock Aiken (Thunder Bay North Stars) from the right side.
They then used some wizardry to extend then lead a couple shifts later as Blake Nelson (Thief River Falls Norskies) danced in the Canadian zone and fed Bryce Johnson (Thief River Falls Norskies) behind the net, who neatly scooped the puck up and whipped it into the top corner, lacrosse style, to go up by a pair.
It was more by Americans later in the frame as Eric Stout (Dryden GM Ice Dogs) forced a turnover which eventually led to Braden Shea (Dryden GM Ice Dogs) stuffing one in from close range past a sprawled Aiken.
Canada did get one back before the first was complete as the Red Lake Miners trio of Bryce Young and Michael Di Lullo set-up Spencer Milne who buried a shot from the slot beating USA netminder Bailey Schmitz (Thief River Falls Norskies) at 18:31.
It was more from the Miners trio four minutes into the middle stanza as Young broke up a USA rush which helped Di Lullo feed a hard-charging Milne who cut left and tucked in his second of the evening.
After a goaltending change for both clubs midway through the contest that saw Zach Willms (Red Lake Miners) enter the game for Canada and Nick Corneliusen (Minnesota Iron Rangers) for the U.S., the Canadians tied it after Keighan Gerrie (Thunder Bay North Stars) cross-ice pass to Ryan Mignault (Thunder Bay North Stars) who levelled the proceedings at 12:13.
However, the Americans stormed back by striking three times before the period was complete to take a 6-3 cushion after two on tallies by Nelson, Alec Daman (Thief River Falls Norskies) on a shorthanded breakaway and Mason McIntosh (Thief River Falls Norskies).
Battling back in the third, Canada saw Milne bank one in from the side to hit his hat trick while Kirk Coppock’s (Fort Frances Lakers) attempt on net bounced off a U.S. defender and in to pull their side to within one.
The back and forth affair saw the Americans extend their lead at 7:08 of the third with Garrett Wojcicki (Minnesota Iron Rangers) finishing off a McIntosh pass.
Lukas Lundgren (Minnesota Iron Rangers) then swiped the puck off Wilms and was left with an easy empty netter to put the U.S. back up by three before Trey Palermo (Dryden GM Ice Dogs) rounded out the scoring for Canada with just over five minutes to go.
Cam Birkeland (Minnesota Iron Rangers) dished out two assists for the U.S. as did Young and Di Lullo for Canada.
Team USA outshot Canada 47-38 on the night with Corneliusen picking up the win while Willms suffered the loss.
CANADA TAKES SKILLS EVENT: Canada did come out on top in the Skills Competition taking the event eight points to four over their USA counterparts.
PUCK RELAY: Canada
Team USA & Game Action Photo credit: Clint Bruyere