Shane Pinto stars at World Juniors, but U.S. falls to Canada
Shane Pinto has been quick to pick up almost everything this season.
In his first semester of college hockey, the freshman forward has been a fixture in the top six of UND's lineup, he's proved adept at playing center and special teams, while leading the No. 1-ranked team in the country in goals.
So, why would the World Junior Championship be any different?
Pinto had a huge debut at the under-20 event Thursday afternoon, Dec. 26, while playing in the U.S.-Canada rivalry game. He scored two goals, added an assist and had a third goal waived off because it came slightly after the second-period buzzer. Pinto was named Team USA's player of the game in a 6-4 pool play loss to Canada.
After one day at the tournament, only one player -- Canada's Alexis Lafreniere, the expected No. 1 overall pick in June's draft -- has more points than Pinto.
USA coach Scott Sandelin, also the head coach at Minnesota Duluth, assigned Pinto to center the top line for the Americans and play on the top power-play unit.
Pinto delivered by scoring twice on the power play and adding an assist at even strength.
His first goal came just 3:10 into the game and gave the Americans a 1-0 lead. On that play, UMass defenseman Zac Jones blasted a shot from the right point that Pinto tipped past Canadian goaltender Nicolas Daws. Jones and Pinto re-kindled their magic from last season, when they were both teammates with Tri-City in the United States Hockey League
USA gets on the board first, thanks to Shane Pinto's deflection on the power play! pic.twitter.com/7lD1K5oZOe— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 26, 2019
Late in the second period with the U.S. trailing 3-2, Pinto appeared to tie it, but upon review, his apparent goal came just after the buzzer sounded and it was waived off.
Shane Pinto finds the back of the net for USA as the period ends, but the officials rule it as a no-goal. pic.twitter.com/T26uTeVPDL— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 26, 2019
Pinto then tied the game 4-4 with just 3:18 left in the third period with another power-play tally, finishing off a feed from Nick Robertson. On that play, Pinto snuck behind his UND teammate, Jacob Bernard-Docker of Canada, to score.
Shane Pinto's second of the game is the power play equalizer, with minutes to go in the third! pic.twitter.com/tt7SrflqOY— TSN (@TSN_Sports) December 26, 2019
The tie game didn't last long, though.
On the ensuing faceoff, USA defenseman K'Andre Miller of Wisconsin, tried to saucer a pass to his fellow defenseman, but Lafreniere intercepted it, skated in on a breakaway and scored just seven seconds later. That goal stood as the winner. Canada tacked on an empty-netter for the final margin.
Pinto played 17:07 and finished with team-highs in goals (two), points (three) and shots on goal (five).
Bernard-Docker also played a big role in the game, logging 19:06 of ice time and registering a plus-1 rating. Only two Canadian players logged more ice time than Bernard-Docker, a UND sophomore.
The opener marked the first of four pool play games for each team.
Pinto and the Americans play against Germany at noon Friday. Then, they'll face Russia at noon Sunday and the host Czech Republic at noon Monday.
Bernard-Docker and the Canadians don't play until noon Saturday against Russia. Then, they'll face Germany at 8 a.m. Monday and the Czech Republic at noon Tuesday.
Eight of the 10 teams in the event will make Thursday's quarterfinals.