“Great moments are born from great opportunities.” – Herb Brooks, Team USA hockey Gold Medal coach 1980 Olympics.
Team USA today provided America with great moments as they were given the opportunity to play for the chance to advance to the gold medal round. And capture that opportunity to go for gold team USA did. In what most people would have to view as an upset early this morning Team USA beat in resounding fashion a very talented Canadian team 5-1 in the IIHF U20 WJC in Ufa, Russia.
How did team USA defeat Canada? With an outstanding goaltender named John Gibson and he’s not a bad setup man either having an assist in this game. Folks remember this name because he will be a star in the NHL. His point blank save on Ryan Strome was unreal. The Anaheim Ducks have to be thrilled to be getting such a talent. Gibson is leading all goalies in the tournament in both Save % and GAA.
But this is TEAM USA and while John Gibson is definitely spearheading the Americans efforts he is not alone. The defensive play in front of him has been stellar if not spectacular. The one thing in watching the Americans is they are hard workers that never say die. Their positioning and active stick work in their own zone was almost flawless in this game. This is a testament to good coaching and disciplined execution by the players.
What is surprising is that Team Canada was resoundingly beat which is very surprising given all their firepower up front. Team Canada never really got on track due to the USA defensive efforts and their speed made the difference. 2013 Number 1 projected prospect Seth Jones stablizes the D core and fellow defenseman Jacob Trouba who has scored I believe in every game has been very consistent and provided the US with some fire power where they have lacked a little.
Team USA was the first to the pucks and transitioned through the neutral zone with surprising ease and blazing speed. Team USA came out flying just like the iconic American eagle. Not sure if the day off hurt Team Canada because it sure seemed like they never got their legs and we all know “the legs feed the wolf”1. Team Canada had too many turnovers which ended up costing them in the end. Team Canada came out flat and Team USA kept them flat.
Goals were scored by Boston College’s Johnny “Hockey” Gaudreau with a two goal effort. His dangle on Team USA’s third goal made me think for a moment Patrick Kane was playing in the game. University of Wisconsin & Team USA Captain Jacob McCabe also got a pair of goals. McCabe’s goals both came from Canadian defensive breakdowns and he was able to cash in on both from the high slot area.
The sole goal came from Harvard’s Jim Vesey who is a Nashville Predators prospect. All of the USA goals were even strength goals. The lone Canadian tally was a shortie by Ty Rattie which had Blackhawks’ prospect Phillip Danault with the assist on.
With these turn of events shockingly Canada will play Team Russia for the bronze. Team Russia was beaten in a SO be the defending champions team Sweden. The surprising thing is that either Canada or Russia will leave this tourney without a medal. No one would have believed that as Canada and Russia were probably the favorites for gold going in.
The one thing all of this proves is that USA hockey is alive and well and could signal a new era not only for junior hockey but for the NHL as well. It may not be that long when the face of the NHL will be half comprised of Americans and a diversity that it has lacked. This could push hockey forward in popularity in the United States. These kids are the future of the NHL so tune in for that reason alone.
Team USA will go for the gold against team Sweden Saturday morning at 7AM Chicago time on either NHLNetwork or TSN Canadian Radio. Coach Phil Housley will have the troops ready so tune in and catch Team USA go for the gold. Sweden is the defending champions and will not be an easy opponent. This should be a very good game as each team is pretty evenly matched.
America you should be proud of the boys they are a complete hockey team that plays with a lot of heart and determination. GO TEAM USA!
1 Herb Brooks quote
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