WILLIAMS SCORES OT WINNER, SENDS CANADA TO GOLD MEDAL GAME
JASON LA ROSE
EDMONTON, Alta. – Dylan Cozens (Whitehorse, Y.T./Lethbridge, WHL) tied the game with a buzzer-beater and Josh Williams (Langley, B.C./Medicine Hat, WHL) won it early in overtime, putting Canada in the gold medal game at the 2018 Hlinka Gretzky Cup with a wild 6-5 win over the United States in semifinal action Friday night.
With the crowd still roaring from the emotion of the Cozens goal, Williams took a drop pass from Peyton Krebs (Okotoks, Alta./Kootenay, WHL) and fired a wrist shot past the glove of U.S. goaltender Dustin Wolf, keeping hopes alive for a 22nd summer under-18 gold medal.
The Canadians will face Sweden in the gold medal game Saturday night (7 p.m. MT).
Cozens got the game to an extra period, gathering in a feed from Bowen Byram (Cranbrook, B.C./Vancouver, WHL) and snapping a quick shot past Wolf to tie the game just as the horn sounded.
The wild finish was fitting for a back-and-forth thriller between the North American rivals; the U.S. held leads of 1-0, 2-1, 3-2 and 5-4 before the Canadians came back, and the Americans erased a 4-3 deficit in the third period before the Cozens goal.
Nicholas Robertson opened the scoring with his first of three goals, wiring a shot under the cross-bar for a power-play marker just 3:20 in. The shot was in and out off the back bar so quickly, play continued for more than two minutes before the referees confirmed the goal.
That started a run of four goals in less than five minutes – Alexis Lafrenière (St-Eustache, Que./Rimouski, QMJHL) tied the game at 4:39 and Aaron Huglen restored the American advantage with a beautiful lacrosse-style goal at 5:48 before Jamieson Rees (Hamilton, Ont./Sarnia, OHL) stuffed in a bouncing puck at 8:10 to even things up again.
Robertson got his second of the period with less than six minutes left, sneaking a backhand through Canadian netminder Nolan Maier (Yorkton, Sask./Saskatoon, WHL) right off a scrambled face-off.
The lone goal of the second period came from Xavier Parent (Blainville, Que./Halifax, QMJHL), who one-timed a feed from Lafrenière for a power-play marker to send the game to the intermission tied 3-3.
Williams gave Canada its first lead early in the third period, whipping a shot over the shoulder of Wolf, but Robertson finished his hat trick at 11:58 to tie the game before Josh Groll jumped on a turnover behind the Canadian net and set up Luke Toporowski to put the U.S. back in front.
That led to the wild finish, with Williams sending the pro-Canadian crowd at Rogers Place home happy.
The Americans will have a short turnaround ahead of the bronze medal game against Russia on Saturday afternoon (3 p.m. MT).