After the New Years Eve game in which the United States lost a heartbreaker in a shootout, many USA Hockey fans thought “here we go again,” and figured the United States would bow out of the quarterfinals in heartbreaking fashion. But after thrashing Finland, and defeating Sweden, they found themselves in the gold medal game against Canada. Canada was only going for their 6th gold medal in a row, no big deal.
Canada came out like the gold medalists, with Jake Allen scoring a bit of a soft goal through Mike Lee’s five hole. The Americans came back when BC’s Chris Kreider and Minnesota’s Jordan Schroeder scored goals just 36 seconds apart. It was the first time in Canada’s gold medal streak that they found themselves behind, and just the second time they gave up a 1st period goal.
Nazem Kadri then found Greg Nemisz to tie it back up. Defensemen Alex Pietrangelo then picked up a 2 and 10 when he hit the US’s Jeremy Morin from behind. It was a hit that looked uglier than it really was, but definitely worthy of a 2 and 10.
John Carlson, with the Hershey Bears, beat Canadian goalie Jake Allen with a slapper (more on him later). However, just a couple minutes later, Lee gave up a fluky goal, but still one that should never have gone in, and US coach Dean Blais yanked him in favor of Jack Campbell, who won U-18 gold just last year.
Campbell asserted himself almost immediately, as he made 5 or 6 huge saves on a power play after Philip McRae got 2 minutes for delay of game. After that power play, Jerry D’Amigo (RPI) gave the US the lead, then after a puck was flipped in on net, and coughed up by Jake Allen, Derek Stepan (Wisconsin) hammered it home, which then chased Allen from net.
With just over 4 minutes left, Kyle Palmieri (Notre Dame) got an interference penalty when he was pushed into the goalie in one of the worst calls of the tournament. Granted, he probably shouldn’t have put himself in that position, but it was still an awful call to make in the waning moments of a gold medal game.
You all know what happened next. Jordan Eberle scored on the power play, and then floated in a goal just a minute later. That goal gave Eberle the career lead in WJC goals, surpassing John Tavares.
In overtime, the play went back and forth for a few frantic minutes. Jordan Schroeder broke lose and had a chance to win it, but he was stoned. Canada flew down the other end and Alex Pietrangelo had a shot to win it, but Campbell saved it, beginning the rush heard round the world. The US stormed down the ice on a 3 on 2 and John Carlson fired a no look shot into the top left corner of the net to give the US just their second gold ever in the WJC.
Carlson said he spoke to team USA in the locker room after the 3rd: ‘If you guys were to tell me at the beginning of the tournament that we’d be here right now going into overtime right now for the gold medal, anyone in the locker-room would have taken it,’
With the U-18 gold, and now the U-20 gold, I think we can perhaps call this group the kids who saved USA Hockey.
Also, watch this clip of the Americans in the locker room after the game