|Eamon McAdam locks down the post during the WJAC gold medal game against Canada West.|
When goaltender Eamon McAdam arrives at Penn State next year, he'll already have something in common with future teammates Luke Juha and Curtis Loik beyond the usual two degrees of separation in hockey: a World Junior A Challenge gold medal. McAdam's Team USA defeated Canada West in the final by a 6-3 count Sunday evening in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia to recapture WJAC supremacy. The U.S. had won three straight gold medals from 2008 through 2010 before being interrupted by the Canada West squad of the two current PSU freshmen last year.
How important was McAdam to the championship? He started and won all four of Team USA's tournament games. His goals against average (2.18) and save percentage (.927) were tops among all tournament goaltenders who played in at least two games. So yeah, he was pretty important.
Statistically, the final wasn't his best game, but it was still a highlight to me. Team USA carried a 2-0 lead into the first intermission thanks to goals from J.T. Stenglein (who was recruited by PSU but recently committed to Michigan State) and Notre Dame-bound Vince Hinostroza. Canada West responded to take a 3-2 lead 9:31 into the second. At the risk of sounding like I'm homering the Perkasie, PA native, there wasn't much he could have done about the Canadian rally. The first goal was a centering attempt that deflected in off a skate in front, the second came off a turnover and an effective 3-on-1 down low and the third was a well-placed deflection. From there, though, McAdam shut the door, including during a full two minutes of 3-on-5 play early in the third period of what was then a one-goal game.
On the other end, goals by Boston College commit Austin Cangelosi, future Michigan Wolverine Alex Kile, Stenglein's second and a spectacular finish from tournament MVP Hinostroza completed the rally.
|McAdam makes a save against Switzerland|
Team USA plowed through its two Group B games on the first two days of the tournament, blasting Canada East 9-1 and edging Switzerland 4-3 last Monday and Tuesday.
Winning the group, which gave the Americans a bye to the semifinals, combined with a pre-determined schedule that saw Team USA as the odd squad out on the last day of group games, led to a rarity: consecutive off days right in the middle of a seven-day tournament. Rest, not rust, turned out to be the order of that situation, as the U.S. again dispatched the Swiss (who would go on to take the bronze) by a much more decisive 7-4 count in Friday's semifinals. McAdam only played the first two periods, saving 23 of 24 and giving way to Michael Bitzer with a 6-1 lead through 40 minutes.
Of note: former Penn State commit Thomas Welsh, a defenseman, skated for fourth-place Canada East in the tournament. Welsh had no points and 26 penalty minutes in five games. Despite 15 goals against in bookend losses to the U.S. and Switzerland, Canada East only allowed four in the middle three games.
Pellah, West Take CJHL Prospects Game
|Bo Pellah (front row, third in from the right) helped West to a CJHL Prospects Game "win" Sunday.|
In addition to McAdam and the WJAC proper, 2014 defense commit Bo Pellah participated in the 2012 CJHL Prospects Game, a showcase event for NHL draft prospects held in conjunction with the WJAC. The "game" - actually a two-game total goals series between players from the five eastern and five western CJHL leagues - was won by Pellah's West team 8-6.
West took the first half on Saturday 5-0, but came actually blew that huge cushion in game two on Sunday just prior to the WJAC gold medal game when East stormed out to 6-1 third-period advantage. Pellah was the primary assist on West's only goal to that point, a shorthanded effort from Ryan Berlin early in the second period that temporarily halted momentum after East had scored four consecutive to open the game. Goals from Merrimack commit Austin Plevy and Berlin in the last three minutes of the game - window dressing in most cases, but vital here - cut East's final margin of victory to 6-3, not enough to flip the series result.