In what was the matchup everyone in the hockey world was hoping for, the OHL's Sudbury Wolves have defeated the USHL's Waterloo Black Hawks by a score of 2-0.
When these teams were announced as taking part of the World Junior Cup tournament in Omsk, Russia, most people were hoping the USHL would meet the OHL and see just who would come out on top. Both teams finished 2nd in their respective group pairings and faced off with the winners of each group, Dinamo-Shinnik Bobruisk and Linkopings HC. Sudbury didn't have much trouble with Shinnik, winning by a score of 5-2. There was much more drama in the Waterloo vs Linkopings game, however. Waterloo got off to a 3-0 lead, but would give up 4 unanswered goals and were looking at taking a run at 3rd place. With 1.7 seconds left, 3rd year veteran, Vince Hinostroza, put one home to tie the game. Hinostroza would go on to score twice in the shootout to help propel Waterloo to a victory and setting up the championship game against Sudbury.
Scoreless for nearly 50 minutes of play, the physical play of the Wolves wore down the Hawk forwards. Josh Leivo was able to break the scoreless tie when he beat a Waterloo defender and tucked the puck in behind Eamon McAdam. Not too long after that, the Wolves would strike again. This time the goal came off the stick of Frankie Corrado and put Sudbury up 2-0. Waterloo had a hard time keeping puck possession in the offensive zone, and Sudbury did a great job of keeping the Hawks to the outside taking low percentage shots.
Former Muskegon Lumberjacks goalie, Joel Vienneau, stood tall in net for the Wolves and posted a shutout for his efforts.
This was the first time that I can remember where a USHL team played an OHL team in a game that counted. Though hopeful that Waterloo could pull out a victory, USHL fans knew it wouldn't be an easy task. Even with the loss, it shows that the USHL has come a long way and even though Sudbury isn't a top program in the OHL, they are still a pretty good squad and the Black Hawks have nothing to hang their heads for. Though the OHL generally has an older average age per team (since players aren't allowed to play pro outside of the NHL until they age out of the OHL) the average age for both teams was almost identical. Sudbury at 18.1 years old and Waterloo at 17.9 years old (breakdown below.)
It was a great game by both teams and it would be great to be able to see these two leagues meet up for some exhibition games each season instead of hoping for a matchup in a tournament on the other side of the World. Despite some thinking this is a step back for the USHL, I think it's a step forward. They got their foot in the door and even with the loss, performed very well.
Congrats to the Sudbury Wolves for winning the title as they deserved this win.
Congrats to the Waterloo Black Hawks for their valiant effort and great success in this tournament. The Hawks have represented the USA and the USHL very well.
Here is the breakdown of the rosters:
92 (20 years old): 5
93 (19): 6
94 (18): 6
95 (17): 6
96 (16): 3
Total Players: 26
Average Age: 18.1
92 (20): 1
93 (19): 2
94 (18): 15
95 (17): 6
96 (16): 0
Total Players: 24
Average Age: 17.9