USA Crushes Canada

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USA Crushes Canada January 3, 2013 8:28 AM

The USA will play either Russia or Sweden in the gold-medal game Saturday (8 a.m., ET, NHL Network).

I certainly didnt expect to be writing this story today. I had resigned myseelf to a bronze medal game.

Very few people I spoke to thought team USA had a legitimate shot to take down the Canadians today. The Canadians have won medals for 14 consecutive years at the WJC. They seemed to have one of their better teams, led by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who had 18 goals and 52 points in 62 games for the NHL’s Edmonton Oilers last season. They were loaded up with Jonathan Huberdeau (Florida Panthers), Mark Scheifele (Winnipeg Jets) and Ryan Strome (New York Islanders), who look all ready for the NHL. Canada beat team USA 2-1 last week. It seemed like a forgone conclusion.

But this is why we play the game and what makes hockey so special when compared to other sports.

Goaltender John Gibson stopped 26 shots for the win. Canadian starter Malcolm Subban was replaced by Jordan Binnington in the second period after the US had scored four goals on 16 shots. Binnington, playing in his first game since Dec. 22, made 25 saves in relief.

From start to finish, Team USA outplayed Canada in all three zones of the ice, leaning on a relentless forecheck, strong defensive coverage, and great special teams. All five goals were scored by U.S. college players, McCabe fromWisconsin, Gaudreau from Boston College and Vesey from Harvard. Team Canada is made up entirely of major junior players.

There might be something to this NCAA development system we have going on in the states after all eh?

Team USA will meet the winner of the Sweden-Russia semifinal for gold Saturday. Canada will face the loser for bronze.

By Joseph Kolodziej

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