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Team USA Takes CanAm Cup in Shootout

By Phillip Goodman

April 11, 2023

In an exceptionally dramatic weekend of international non-checking hockey, Team USA hoisted their first CanAm Cup in the second annual CanAm Classics Cup presented by The Parlor and Duncan Golf Management at Jennifer M. O'Neal Community Ice Arena.

On Friday night Team USA rallied from down 3-1 in the third to win 4-3 then Team Canada made a late comeback of their own on Saturday, netting two goals in the last few minutes to win 6-5 and force a Cup-deciding shootout. The CanAm series is now tied 1-1 between the two great nations.

The exhibition series raised funds for the JustinHOPE Foundation on Friday and the Special Olympics of Nevada on Saturday. Duncan Golf Management, The Parlor Reno, Scheels, Reno Ice, and the Reno Ice Raiders teamed up to make donations of $5,000 to each charity.

"This series is turning into something special with each passing year," said Jess Peterson, Ice Raiders General Manager and Team USA Player. “You don’t need an excuse to play hockey anyways, but it does make it special when you can raise money for good causes. We can’t thank the Canadian players enough for coming down and playing."

Chad Peters of Manitoba opened the scoring for Team Canada early in the first of the three 15-minute periods on Friday. Peters' wrister beat Lain top shelf for the 1-0 lead. A minute later, Adrian Nicholas of Saskatchewan was the lucky recipient of a USA defender's turnover right in front of Lain and Nicholas' backhander gave Canada a 2-0 lead less than four minutes in.

Late in the first, Nevada resident Garret Sliger plucked a turnover off the wall in USA's attacking zone and his wrister beat Blaine Bugg to narrow USA's deficit to 2-1.

Early in the second, Ice Raider and British Columbia native Charlie Montgomery made a nifty move around a USA defenseman and found Nicholas wide open on the doorstep for a tap-in goal and 3-1 lead.

And as the old hockey cliche goes, a two-goal lead is the worst in hockey.

Owen May took a headman pass from Sliger down the right wing, skated in on Bugg and snuck a wrist shot tweeners on Lain to cut the Canada lead to 3-2.

There was only one penalty in Friday's contest, an inadvertent trip by Charlie Montgomery. On the ensuing power play, Ice Raiders' Captain and Nevada native Andrew Peterson went coast to coast and lifted a wrist shot past Bugg to tie the game 3-3.

From there the intensity ramped for ten minutes and both goaltenders were solid down the stretch. Bugg made his best save of the game with 100 seconds left on a Chris O'Neil breakaway. After that save and a subsequent Canada clear, Andrew Peterson rifled a pass to Owen May up the right wing. May made a power move to the net then slid a backhander under Bugg for the 4-3 game winner.

Shots were even at 30 for each side in game one, which was played before a standing-room-only sellout crowd.

In Saturday's matinee less than 24 hours later, Canada again opened the scoring first when Kevin Gardiner and Nicholas worked a 2-on-1 to perfection with Nicholas deking and finishing on Lain.

Sliger responded with a backhander upstairs on a power play to tie the score at 1-1. The opening-frame seesaw continued when Brady Terpsma of Alberta got a shot through traffic and past Lain for the 2-1 tally.

Team USA came back with a furious forecheck by John Heyne and Matt Van Ness. Van Ness stole the puck from a Canadian, slid the puck to Heyne below the goal line and Heyne wrapped the biscuit into the basket for a 2-2 tie.

Adam Lain was unable to return for the second period due to injury so Matt Van Ness was given plenty of time to put on the goalie pads and fill the pipes for Team USA. Lain left after making 10 saves on 12 shots.

Team Canada added two and kept USA at bay in the second period. Geoff Liska's wraparound and Dan Rowan's wrister 40 seconds apart sent Canada into the locker room with some confidence and 4-2 leading heading to the third.

What's that saying again about two-goal leads in hockey?

On a seemingly harmless breakout, Charlie Montgomery skated the puck in front of Bugg's crease where Joel Grace had been stationed for a screen. Grace got a good whack at Montgomery's stick and the puck rammed into the net for the 4-3 score.

Four minutes later, Andrew Peterson drew two defenders to the net with him and the puck was left wide open for his older brother Jess Peterson to find at the right circle. Jess wasted no time lifting the puck over Bugg for the 4-4 tie.

Sliger then potted his second goal of the night, a cannon of a slapper for the 5-4 lead with 4:38 to go.

But with just over a minute to go and USA on a power play, USA took an interference penalty to create a 4-on-4 situation. Canada won the draw in their attacking zone and Dan Rowan stuffed home a rebound for the 5-5 tie.

Then with 16 seconds left in regulation, Adrian Nicholas' wrist shot from the right wing took a video-game-esque bounce off Van Ness' glove and rolled up and over his back to trickle in the net for Canada's miraculous 6-5 comeback win.

Because of in-game delays for injuries and seven total penalties, the Cup would have to be decided directly by shootout since the teams split wins. (Chad Peters also had to be helped off the ice after a completely accidental yet violent collision into the boards). Only Liska was able to beat Van Ness on Canada's attempts while Andrew Peterson, Garret Sliger, and Owen May buried their shots to clinch the Cup for Team USA.

For Sliger, that was the Ovechkin hat trick - two regulation goals plus a shootout goal.

Dan Rowan, an Alberta native who landed in Reno after college hockey in Vermont is now a Reno Ice Youth Coach and close friend of the Reitz family. Rowan said the idea of an international contest started with some text messages in 2021 and as word spread it evolved into the charity event.

"This year ended exactly as it should have with a shootout," said Rowan. "Hats off to the USA team on a hard fought battle. Once again, the guys that traveled down from Canada were thoroughly impressed with Reno’s hospitality and take a lot of pride in playing for two great causes. Thank you to the Reno community for coming out to support the JustinHOPE Foundation and the Special Olympics of Nevada. We look forward to the rubber match next year."

More enormous thanks goes to The Parlor and Duncan Golf Management for the spectacular jerseys and delicious postgame events. Head over to The Parlor at Winners Crossing on S. Virginia St. and Huffaker Ln. for food, fun, and gaming 24-hours a day.

Friday, 4.7.23 - Charity Game 4: USA vs. Canada Highlights:

Saturday, 4.8.23 - Charity Game 5: USA vs. Canada Highlights:

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