It was a game for the ages. A bunch of kids assembled from all over North America, facing off for the gold medal in the IIHF World Juniors Tournament. On one side, the hometown kids from Canada. On the other side, a scrappy bunch of Americans. Both looking for glory at the highest level they’ve played so far in their budding careers.
From the opening faceoff, to the final shot in a shootout, this game was intense, action packed, and will no doubt go down in history as one of the great gold medal games in the tournaments history.
Finding a way to wrap it up in words, there is no way I can do it justice. I highly recommend that if you missed the game, you tune in for the replay the next time it is on. USA would emerge victorious in the end, but Canada brought their “A” game and both teams fought hard for the glory of their respective countries.
It would take 3 hard fought regulation periods, a 20 minute sudden-death overtime period, and all 5 rounds, 10 shooters in a shootout to decide the winners. Edina native Kieffer Bellows would score 2 goals for Team USA, defensemen Adam Fox would finish with 3 assists, and Charlie McAvoy would score a goal and grab an assist to help lead the US to a 5-4 shootout victory.
Canada would open up the scoring in the first period as they beat US netminder Tyler Parsons on a rush. Matt Barzal would throw a pass across the slot which skipped past Mathieu Joseph but found Thomas Chabot who fired his shot past Parson just under 5 minutes into the game.
There were great chances going both ways, but Canada would strike again just before the midway point of the first period when Jeremy Lauzon would roof a shot past Parsons after a broken play from the US to try and clear the puck out. Fox tried to swat a puck out of the sky but it fell to Lauzon. Canada found themselves with an early 2 goal lead off the sticks of 2 defencemen.
The US would come roaring back in the 2nd period however. Jordan Greenway would throw a cross-ice pass to Charlie McAvoy who had a wide open cage to deposit the puck in. A nice play all-around as the US was really starting to put the screws to Canada and get themselves back in the game.
Canada would trip themselves up a bit in the period when a bit of confusion led to a too many men on the ice penalty, and the Americans would capitalize. Fox would throw a shot towards the goal and Bellows was able to deflect it past Carter Hart to tie the game.
The US would get a little sloppy to close out the period, giving the Canadians a pair of power plays late in the middle frame. Canada would not be able to capitalize on those opportunities however and we would work our way into the final regulation period locked in a 2-2 tie.
Canada was not done however and they came out with a fire in their belly for the 3rd period, scoring 2 quick goals and putting the Americans on their heals early. Bellows would head to the box early in the 3rd and Canada would take the lead once again on the ensuing power play. Nicolas Roy would fire a shot past Parsons and just 2 minutes later Mathieu Joseph would break into the zone to beat Parsons on a pretty deke.
Canada, sporting a 2-goal lead in the 3rd period of a gold medal game seems like an impossible task to overcome, yet that is just what Team USA did, and they answered quickly.
Charlie McAvoy would throw a puck down low where Bellows was waiting at the side of the cage to deflect the shot past Hart and bring the US back within 1 just 40 seconds after Canada’s last goal. Colin White would deflect a Adam Fox shot a couple minutes later to tie the game back up and we we're back to our regularly scheduled nail biter of a game. All this within the first 5 minutes of the final regulation period.
In the overtime period, Canada would throw everything they could at Parsons, but the US goalie played outstanding, stopping all 17 shots he faced in the final frame. The US was only able to muster up 7 shots themselves in overtime, not to say there weren’t any chances. It was intense, and a lot of back and forth hockey where the teams threw anything they had left in the tank at each other with the hopes of ending the game before a shootout.
Nobody would score in sudden-death though, and the two squads would turn to a 5-round shootout to decide who would walk out of there with gold wrapped around their necks. 10 shooters, and just one goal was scored. Troy Terry, who was the hero in the Americans shootout victory over Russia to get them to the gold medal game, would score the lone goal in the shootout to lead Team USA to a 5-4 victory over Canada.
There was a lot of action in this game. While Canada outshot the US 50-36, it’s not to say that the US wasn’t playing a strong game. Parson was incredible in only letting 4 get past him through 50 attempts, and Hart for Canada matched his game although getting significantly less work. Both teams scored on the power play and both teams were able to clear pucks out of the danger areas.
Watching the game was like watching a tennis match. The puck flowing back and forth through all areas of the ice as both teams really pushed to find the answer in regulation and sudden-death. The shootout was intense, and although it might not be the way you want to decide the biggest game of the tournament, both goalies performed amazingly and had it not been for Terry, we could very well still be shooting for a winner.
For the US, it marks their first gold medal in the tournament since 2013 and a nice bounce-back after finishing last years tournament with a bronze. For Canada, anything but a gold has to feel like a disappointment, but they should not hang their heads. The game was amazing, instant classic, and will be one we are talking about for some time.