ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. - Kieffer Bellows and Brady Tkachuk scored in the shootout as the United States beat Canada 4-3 on Friday in the first outdoor game in world junior hockey championship history.
Weather played a major factor in the game held at New Era Field, the home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills, as a constant snowfall slowed down the pace of the game.
Scott Perunovich and Tkachuk scored in the third as the United States (2-1) rallied from a two-goal deficit, just as it did in last year's gold-medal game which the Americans eventually won in the shootout. Bellows had a second-period goal with Casey Mittelstadt earning three assists.
Cale Makar, Dillon Dube and Boris Katchouk helped Canada (2-1) build a 3-1 lead heading into the third period. Carter Hart made 32 saves in net for the Canadians.
Jake Oettinger stopped 19 shots for the Americans, who wore jerseys styled to look like the Bills uniforms.
American forward Logan Brown, an Ottawa Senators prospect, didn't dress. He left Thursday night's shocking 3-2 loss to Slovakia with a lower-body injury after apparently twisting his knee.
Snow began to fall in the stadium just as the national anthems began, adding to the atmosphere for the more than 44,592 fans in attendance.
The game set a new attendance record at a world junior hockey championship. The previous record was 20,380, when Canada faced Sweden in the gold-medal game in Ottawa on Jan. 5, 2009.
Makar opened scoring for Canada at the 15:47 mark of the first period, firing a low wristshot on net from the point. It deflected off the legs of some American defenders and past Oettinger. Dube made it 2-0, again on the power play, snapping a wristshot off the crossbar from the left faceoff dot with 4:43 left in the first.
The snow fell steadily through the first period and picked up its intensity in the second, helping Canada hold on to its lead.
Piles of snow didn't just slow down the skating, it made it harder to hold on to the puck and passes would die before reaching their intended target. That made defence chaotic but easier, while setting up an offensive play became much more difficult.
Shovels and wheelbarrows came out every TV timeout or other lengthy stoppage of play to try to clear the ice, but it was hard for maintenance crews to keep up with the snowfall. Leafblowers were used to clear the snow off of the signage of the host organizations - the Bills, the International Ice Hockey Federation, USA Hockey and New Era Field - on the turf outside of the rink area.
The Americans had a two-man advantage with 4:48 left in the second after Canadian forwards Brett Howden and Alex Formenton both took penalties. For the first minute of the power play the United States couldn't get anything going, with the puck skittering through the snow, allowing the Canadian defenders to get back into position.
Bellows solved the problem of the snow by blasting a slapshot from the point that Hart, screened by his teammates, couldn't see.
Thomas replied for Canada 1:12 later. After a scramble in front of the American net, a U.S. defenceman tried to clear the puck but it died in the snow. Canadian defenceman Jake Bean corralled it, firing it in low from near the blue line, with Thomas tipping it past Oettinger.
A video review upheld the goal, with the Americans arguing that Canadian forward Taylor Raddysh had closed his glove on the puck during the scramble in front of the net that began the sequence.
Perunovich worked a give-and-go play with Mittelstadt to cut Canada's lead to 3-2 with 13:51 left to play. Hart's lateral movement seemed to be slowed by the snow and Canada's defence appeared sluggish, allowing Mittelstadt to find Perunovich in the slot in front of the Canadian goal.
Middelstat set up another goal less than a minute later to tie it 3-3 and eventually force the extra period. He stripped Clague of the puck near the endboards, then fed Tkachuk, again just to the left of Hart as Canada's defence continued to struggle.