For the second-straight year, Team U.S.A. shone the brightest as it downed Team Canada 8-6 in the SIJHL’s annual all-star game last night at the Ice For Kids Arena here.
The U.S. opened the scoring in the “Border Battle” about midway through the first period when Jaedin Ness (Fort Frances Lakers) went high on Team Canada goalie Brock Aiken (Thunder Bay North Stars) from the right side.
The Americans then used some wizardry to extend their lead a couple shifts later as Blake Nelson (Thief River Falls Norskies) danced into the Canadian zone and fed Bryce Johnson (Norskies) behind the net.
Johnson then neatly scooped the puck up and whipped it into the top corner, lacrosse style, for a highlight reel goal to put his team up by two.
Team U.S.A. continued to push the pace and later in the frame, Eric Stout (Dryden GM Ice Dogs) forced a turnover, which eventually led to Braden Shea (Ice Dogs) stuffing one in from close range past a sprawled out Aiken.
Team Canada got one back before the first period ended when the Red Lake Miners’ trio of Bryce Young and Michael Di Lullo set-up Spencer Milne, who buried a shot from the slot past U.S.A. goalie Bailey Schmitz (Norskies) at 18:31.
It was more from the Miners’ trio four minutes into the second as Young broke up a U.S.A. rush, which helped Di Lullo feed a hard-charging Milne, who then cut left and tucked in his second of the night to bring the Canadians within a goal.
After a goaltending change for both teams midway through the contest, which saw Zach Willms (Miners) enter the game for Canada and Nick Corneliusen (Minnesota Iron Rangers) for the U.S., the Canadians tied it after Keighan Gerrie (North Stars) fired a cross-ice pass to Ryan Mignault (North Stars), who knotted it 3-3 at 12:13.
But the Americans stormed back by striking three times before intermission to take a 6-3 cushion after 40 minutes on tallies by Nelson, Alec Daman (Norskies) on a short-handed breakaway, and Mason McIntosh (Norskies).
Battling back in the third, Canada saw Milne bank one in from the side to cap his hat trick while Kirk Coppock’s (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 to 7-5 at 7:08 of the third with Garrett Wojcicki (Iron Rangers) finishing off a pass from McIntosh.
Lukas Lundgren (Iron Rangers) then swiped the puck off Willms stick and was left with an easy empty-netter to put the U.S. back up by three before Trey Palermo (Ice Dogs) rounded out the scoring for Canada with just over five minutes to go.
Cam Birkeland (Iron Rangers) had two assists for the U.S., as did Young and Di Lullo for Canada.
Team U.S.A. outshot Canada 47-38 on the night, with Corneliusen picking up the win and Willms suffering the loss.
Earning game MVP honours were Johnson (Team U.S.A.) and Milne (Team Canada).
In the skills competition prior to the game, it was the Canadians who came out on top 8-4 over their American counterparts.
Team Canada’s Jacob Siebenga (Ice Dogs) won the shooting accuracy event by hitting all four targets in just 16 seconds.
Cameron Coutre (Ice Dogs) of Team Canada was the fastest skater, clocking in with a time of 13.57.
Corenliusen of Team U.S.A. was the top shootout goalie in making nine saves.
Alec Severson (Norskies) of Team U.S.A. had the hardest shot with a blast of 90.08 m.p.h. while Team Canada claimed the puck relay event, which gave them the overall win in the skills competition.