WJC: Team USA stuns Canada in semifinal
Team USA showed just how much its offense has come alive late in the World Junior Championships when they took a 4-0 lead into the third period against Canada in the semifinal round. After falling 2-1 to the Canadians in the preliminary round, holding their opponents scoreless through 40 minutes was more than they could have asked for. Going on to win the game 5-1 for a place in the gold-medal match was a stunner.
US captain and defenseman Jake McCabe scored both of the Americans’ first period goals and said after the first period that he and his team just needed to continue what they were doing in order to be successful. They did just that, with a third goal coming from Boston College’s Johnny Gaudreau to make it 3-0 US following a string of great back-and-forth hockey in which Canada got some serious looks. It was Gaudreau’s sixth goal in three games.
Oddly enough, the game didn’t see a penalty until Canada’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went off for slashing about 13 minutes into the second. The Canadians got a power play chance of their own when the US took its first penalty, but both teams were able to kill the respective penalties. The US has now killed all but two penalties through the semifinal round of the tournament.
Jim Vesey made it 4-0 with a shot to the far post to get by Malcolm Subban. It was the Harvard player’s first goal of the tournament, chasing Subban from net in favor of Jordan Binnington.
Going into the third, Gaudreau said Team USA wouldn’t be going any lighter in the final period, aiming to continue getting deep and putting pucks on net. He credited his team’s blue liners, who contributed both defensively and offensively in the 4-0 effort through two periods.
But Canada finally got on the board in the third period thanks to some seriously sloppy play from Team USA. After his first shot rang off the post, Ty Rattie got his own rebound and threw it on the open net beating John Gibson. It was initially unclear whether the goal would stand considering it appeared the whistle had been blown prior to Rattie’s rebound shot, but the officials ruled it good. It was not the only questionable call of the game, as Blake Pietila appeared to intentionally dislodge the US goal and got away with it.
Gibson came up big halfway through the third, stoning Nugent-Hopkins on a clear shot. Where Subban had struggled, Gibson was more than able to rise to the occasion and fend off the Canadian offense.
Gaudreau all but sealed the victory with 4:19 to play in the third with his second goal of the night, going right over the shoulder of Binnington to make it seven goals in three games for the BC forward. Like on Vesey’s goal, it all started with great play from J.T. Miller, who set up both scoring chances.
USA hadn’t beaten Canada by more than a single goal since a 5-2 preliminary-round win in 1999. They’ll play the winner of Sweden vs. Russia Saturday at 8 a.m. ET.