IIHF World Junior Championship
Canada vs. USA @ Credit Union Centre
Sorry this took me a while to get out.
No italics because if I told you without having you read, I would've done a poor job in what I believe a writer should do.
It's a 2004 repeat: USA vs. Canada. In 2004, USA won gold while Canada was awarded silver. Then for the next 5 tournaments after 2004, Canada swept through the tournament winning gold every year.
Now it's the sixth tournament with the same two teams in 2004. Not only that, but it's also a repeat of this year's tounament. On New Year's Eve, these same two teams saw each other. USA went through the round robin, quarter finals, and the semi-finals to get to the finals. Canada breezed (that's a bit of a stretch) through the round robin, got a bye in the quarters, defeated the upset story of the tournie Switzerland in the semi's, and now they're in the finals.
But who was the one to come out on top?
Before I get to the game, there is some little heartwrench at the beginning. Travis Hamonic (who indured a split shoulder after being run into the boards by a Suisse) was dressed in his jersey, pads, and skates fore the warm up. With the sling underneath the red and the leaf, Travis sat on the bench, watching his mates play for the gold medal. Wasn't as bad as it sounds because there's always that voice in your head that says to not cry over spilt milk.
The game starts off on the best of notes. The intensity and the emotions, just everything! Things that relate to the ice and things that don't mixed in to make it a very good start. But then things really picked up.
After a hard battle in the Canadian end boards, Jordan Caron freed the puck to make the short pass for Luke Adam. Never did a little pass make such magic as Caron made the opening goal just 3 minutes in!
I'd like to charge the guilty card to the Canadians on this one. We get a little to fancy at our blueline and it costs us. Kyle Plamieri picked the puck off of us and gave it to Chris Kreider who slotted it in on the far side of Jake Allen.
Just 36 seconds later, we were put back in a sticky situation. 36 seconds later, Ryan Bourque made the quick feed to Canucks prospect, Jordan Schroeder for their first lead of the night.
But we are not one to stay down. Greg Nemisz made the trickster pass at centre line to Taylor Hall. Hall worked it down the ice and made the tight pass to Nazem Kadri. Kadri, somehow, got the puck to go through two tightly knit defencemen and Nemisz's skates for it to land on Nemisz's stick and GOAL! We end the period with a 2-2 tie. And this is Nemisz's first point of the tournament. He is the only Canadian skater to play every game and not get a point yet.
The middle period started with USA on the PP. On that PP, John Carlson made the slapper at the blue that went in past Jake Allen. Jake had a very small chance of getting the save on it because of the double screen in front of him.
Quite a lucky goal. Hall made the wrap pass to Luke Adam who flipped it into the American zone. The final bounce it took was above Mike Lee's head. The puck would take a touch off of Hall's stick at crossbar level to go in for our third goal! From there, USA's coach Dean Blais, pulled Mike Lee from net and replaced him with the 17-year-old Jack Campbell.
But don't let age fool you. For the remainder of the second and a good bit of the third, Campbell had made some huge saves! Sometimes he was square to the shooter, other's he was standing on his head. But USA cannot complain about this young chap as he is good. And he's secretly an acrobat.
I don't know what happend to Allen today. You picked the wrong night to be off. I'm not picking on you, just letting you know. Calvin de Haan lost the puck along the American boards to Jerry D'Amigo. Being a bit of a sniper, D'Amigo used time and patience on his side to get the advantage and give America another go-ahead goal.
Don't let this dude get out of your sights. D'Amigo made the flip pass on target into the zone. Allen made the save and decided to glove it down to continue play. But zippy Derek Stepan zoomed in and cashed in the goal. That would be the end of Allen's night as he makes his way to the bench for Calgary Hitmen's (WHL) Martin Jones.
Now this wasn't very pretty. Ryan Ellis gave the puck away at the Canadian zone. It was just forunate that the white jersey zooming in missed the net and then charged Jones. Add that atop of all the puck hogging our guys are doing...
So just like many other times we faced the Americans, we are down in goals. This time we were trailing by two. And just like New Year's Eve - we inch our way closer to tying and defeating them! With Nazem Kadri being a GREAT screen in front of Campbell, Alex Pietrangelo passed to Jordan Eberle for the snap shot into the back of the net! And if you weren't convinced that Ebs is our Hero of the Tournament, then this next one will. Big rebound out in front of the net, Ebs scooped it up, got the puck to take a lucky bounce and WE ARE TIED AT 5!
Just like New Year's Eve, we're heading into a 20 minute OT period. Now let's make it a New Years' repeat.
Both of the teams looked great in the extra period. USA had the speed and zip, but Canada had the peppering shots and the momentum (after that great come from behind). But then Campbell made a timely save off of a hot shot. The save got the puck bouncing to the centre of the ice. On the 3-on-1, John Carlson took the short-side shot and got the GWG to end Canada's gold streak.
It sucked in the end to see our guys so beat. They put their best efforts on the line, but it came up short. Guess an end must come to al good things, eh? It hurt a bit to see our boys with their heads hung low in such sulky moods.
But if I had to choose a team to lose to (which is hard) this tournament, it would be to the Americans. They had a great tournie and they played with such great prowness, speed, power, and knowledge it could rival Canada. And like I said, the better team won tonight. But maybe if it was a different night (like yesterday), things would've turned out differently. But I'm not (and probably the boys too) a person to make excuses.
Not many things make me cry, but this one did. Only from tears and defeat can we summon courage and strength. We'll take it to Buffalo, NY next year. We'll see who comes on top for 2011.
Player of the Game:
(Canada) Jordan Eberle
(USA) Derek Stepan
Top 3 players (chosen by the coaches):
(Canada) Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Alex Pietrangelo
(USA) Tyler Johnson, Derek Stepan, Jerry D'Amigo
Best goaltender of the tournament: (SUIS) Benjamin Conz
Best defenceman of the tournament: (CAN) Alex Pietrangelo
Best forward of the tournament: (CAN) Jordan Eberle
Tournament MVP: (CAN) Jordan Eberle
Just an off note: Team USA cannot sing for their lives. (Oh! And if you haven't figured it out, USA won 5-6 OT.)
Lol! Check Ryan Ellis out!
Now this is where I come out and show how I (and the majority of Canada) and the boys felt after the game.
And for the USA fans out there...