Well, it wasn't the outcome Canadian fans were hoping for, but congratulations to Team USA on a hard-fought 6-5 overtime win in last night's World Junior gold medal final.
Despite the fact that Canada came up short, it was a heck of a game to watch and pretty much exactly what you want in a high-stakes game like that. It had early goals, lead changes, big hits, big saves, and when it looked like the game was out of reach, it even had another late comeback by Team Canada, not to mention the always-exciting overtime period (which, unfortunately, the US won).
The win gives the States their second WJHC gold, to go with the one they won after beating Canada in the 2004 instalment of the tournament. In that game, the winning goal came when Canadian goalie Marc-Andre Fleury tried to clear a loose puck and bounced it in off his own defenceman. This time around, there was a similar flub which was almost the game-winner...Jerry D'Amigo dumped the puck in on Canadian goalie Jake Allen who mishandled it and gave it away right on the doorstep, allowing Derek Stepan to put it in the net for a 5-3 lead.
In 2004, Canada should have won; last night, I think it's fair to say the better team took home the gold (and as a Canadian that is haaaaaard for me to say).
As they say, you can't win 'em all, but damn did we ever come close. I think one of the reasons we've, as a country, fallen in love with this tournament over the years is that it's always exciting. It's either triumph or heartbreak, but it's always exciting. Take last night for example, with the game seemingly out of reach, Edmonton Oilers prospect Jordan Eberle scored twice in the last three minutes of regulation to tie it up.
Are you kidding me?! I was trying my hand at "live blogging" during the game, and just before the Eberle goals I mentioned that I wasn't feeling good about this one, but that I had counted Canada out before in a game like this and they pulled it out. Moments later, Eberle found mesh on the power play, giving Canada life.
"Eberle coming through in the clutch...seen that anywhere before?"
Good for Eberle, he really showed us all what he's made of in this tournament. He was a big part of Canada's win last year, but to come back this year and dominate the way he did shows that he's something special. He was rewarded for it too, with Best Forward and Tournament MVP honours after an eight goal, 13 point performance in six games. With those two goals, he passes John Tavares on the career list among Canadians in the tournament. Not bad at all.
Canadian Alex Pietrangelo, who sat for 12 minutes last night after taking two-and-a-10 for hitting from behind, was named the tournament's best defenceman with 12 points and a plus-eight rating.
Next year's tournament is in Buffalo, NY, which gives Team Canada a perfect opportunity for revenge. Thanks for another batch of great memories fellas!