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2015 WJC: Canada takes top spot in Group A over United States

Team Canada defeats the United States 5-3 in a New Year's Eve showdown between the North American hockey powers. Max Domi had 2 goals for the Canadians while Dylan Larkin had the same for Team USA.

Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

A valiant third period and two late goals by Michigan freshman Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings draft pick) wasn't enough for Team USA to dig out of a hole against its biggest international rival at the 2015 U-20 World Junior Championship.

Canada (4-0-0-0) took the top spot in Group A with a 5-3 New Year's Eve win in Montreal over the United States. Max Domi (Vancouver Canucks) had two goals for Team Canada, which will move on to play Denmark, the fourth place team in Group B.

The Americans (2-1-0-1) will play the third place team in Group B, Russia, by virtue of its second place finish. It's a rematch of sorts for the US, which finished second behind Canada and was eliminated in the quarterfinals by the Russians a year ago.

Both teams will next play January 2nd in Toronto.

With only shoving and open ice hits in the opening period, Canada took a 2-0 lead in the second period. Domi took a pass from Sam Reinhart (Buffalo Sabres) - who had three points Wednesday -  and beat US goalie and fellow Canucks prospect Thatcher Demko (Boston College). Josh Morrissey (Winnipeg Jets) made it 2-0 Canada on the power play 11 seconds past the midway mark of the second.

United States defenseman Anthony DeAngelo (Tampa Bay Lightning) cut the deficit in half late in the second to give the Americans life.

That was as close as Team USA was able to get despite playing its best hockey during the third period. Three times in the third Canada was up by one and three times the Canadians were able to get ahead by two. The first, which came from Team Canada captain Curtis Lazar (Ottawa Senators), was controversial in that it appeared Lazar possibly interfered with Demko. After a long review, the goal stood.

With 2:34 remaining, Hudson Fasching (University of Minnesota/Sabres) set up Larkin, holding the puck until the last minute before his linemate could beat Team Canada goalie Eric Comrie (Winnipeg) to make it a 3-2 game.

The Americans had a couple chances with a pulled Demko, who made 38 saves, but Reinhart took advantage of a giveaway to re-take a two goal lead. Larkin got his second right off the ensuing face-off  and it was a 4-3 game with 43.2 seconds remaining.

Domi finished the scoring with an empty netter in the closing seconds for the final 5-3 tally.

In a much hyped match-up between US captain Jack Eichel and Canadian superstar forward Connor McDavid, the two players highly expected to be the top two picks in the 2015 NHL Draft, Eichel got an assist while McDavid helped set up Lazar's goal.

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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation. You can also follow him on Twitter --