No silver lining for heartbroken Canadians
The streak is over.
Team USA got their sweet revenge from New Year’s Eve, and Team Canada’s quest for a record-setting sixth-straight gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships came to a resounding halt Tuesday night.
The upstart Americans captured the gold in a 6-5 overtime victory in Saskatoon.
In a game that featured everything a hockey fan could ask for – hits, goals, saves and comebacks – American defenceman John Carlson silenced the boisterous Canadian crowd 4:31 into overtime, beating goalie Martin Jones blocker-side.
It was eerily fitting that the Americans would snap the gold medal away from Canada’s clutches, as the U.S. was the last team to take the gold from Canada at the tournament in Helsinki, Finland back in 2004.
Since then, Canada has wrung off five straight gold medals with various heroes emerging from the red and white to keep the streak alive, including this year’s tournament MVP Jordan Eberle, with clutch goals at key times.
It looked all but over for Canada earlier in the third period when the Americans took a commanding 5-3 lead, but like they did in the New Year’s Eve preliminary game, they proceeded to blow their two-goal margin.
Eberle electrified the crowd with two straight goals late in the final frame to further justify his “Messiah” nickname, given to him by the locals of Regina, the city where he plays junior hockey.
Team Canada certainly toed the line with miraculous comeback after comeback at the World Juniors throughout the years, but this year the Americans’ blinding speed and offensive weapons exposed Canada’s hampered defence with Travis Hamonic out with a separated shoulder.
17-year-old goaltender Jack Campbell took over for Mike Lee – who allowed three goals on seven shots – in the Americans’ net early in the second period.
Campbell came up huge late in the third period and in overtime, turning aside shot after shot to preserve the game for Team USA.
Canada will get the chance to try and exact some revenge on their neighbours from the south next year when they look to re-claim the gold in Buffalo in 2011; with the way these two teams have played each other, it should be another instant classic.