Tina Comeau - The Vanguard
The final score may not have been what the fans at the Mariners Centre were hoping for but overall people didn’t seem disappointed with the game itself at the conclusion of a Canada East-USA contest on Wednesday evening.
© TINA COMEAU - TC MEDIA
Inside this celebration crush is Morgan Messenger who scored a goal in the third period of a Canada East-USA game to tie the score.
Team USA won the Nov. 6 game 4-2, scoring the last of their goals on the empty Canada East net.
For the pro-Canada East crowd watching the last of the preliminary round games of the World Junior A Challenge, the highlight of the night came in the third period when the hometown favourite on the Canada East roster – Yarmouth Mariner Morgan Messenger – scored a goal to tie the score at that point 2-2.
Tweeted Hockey Canada: “"If anybody happens to find the roof of the Mariners Centre please return it to Yarmouth. It came off when @adirtymess (Messenger’s Twitter hashtag) tied the game."
As the crowd reacted thunderously to Messenger's goal, his mother Barbara of Centreville, Shelburne County, could be seen in the stands both cheering and overcome with emotion.
Messenger was named the player of the game for Canada East. (You can see the game sheet on Hockey Canada's website by clicking here.)
About scoring the goal while representing his country at this international hockey tournament, Messenger said, “Honestly, it’s kind of unexplainable. Anytime you get to wear the crest for your country it’s just huge and to be able to go out there and produce is just something else.
“Our coach has been preaching high so I stayed high, the boys battled down low and the puck came up top . . . I threw it on net,” he said.
As a Mariner, Messenger has scored many times in this arena before, but he said there is just something different about scoring when you’re playing for your country.
“Nothing compares to scoring for your country,” he said. “It’s probably been the greatest moment of my life so far.”
Messenger wears #24 for Canada East. On the USA roster, their #24 was also named the player of the game, this being Karson Kuhlman who scored USA’s first two goals of the game, one in the first period, the other coming early in the second. Asked for his reflections on the game he told the Vanguard, “Obviously the place went nuts when they tied it up there 2-2, but I thought we worked hard. That’s kind of our theme for the tournament, work hard and good things will come and the win came with our hard work.”
About being at this tournament in Yarmouth Kuhlman, who comes from Minnesota, said it’s been a great experience so far.
With their win, the USA won their group in the preliminary round and get the bye to Friday’s semi-final.
“We accomplished our first goal and that was winning our division,” said USA head coach Derek Lalonde, who said his team will now take advantage of a very much needed day off from the tournament on Thursday. “We were tired out there and it showed. Canada East took the play for a large majority. They were a very determined team. I liked our fight back, I liked our composure during a very hard third period and all-in-all it was a very good win for us.”
Asked how their game versus Canada East compared to USA’s previous 8-3 win over Russia, Lalonde said Canada East outworked the USA in a lot of areas and won puck battles and were tight in the middle of the ice.
“It was a struggle getting through the neutral zone. We tried to do a little adjustment in the second and then they were tight in their D-zone so we had to fight through those things,” he said. “They probably played, I wouldn’t say a perfect game, but they played a very good game. They may have deserved a better fate tonight with the effort they put forward, but again, I give our guys credit for fighting through it.”
Thursday sees two quarterfinal games being played at the Mariners Centre. Canada East will play Switzerland at 8 p.m., with the winner advancing to Friday’s semi-final against USA.
Russia and Czech Republic will play in Thursday’s 4 p.m. quarterfinal, with the winner advancing to Friday’s other semifinal against Canada West, which won its group in the preliminary round.