Heartbreak for Team Canada as U.S. Works Overtime to Capture World Junior Hockey Gold in Shootout
MONTREAL — We had been expecting something special. Memorable. One of those “where-were-you?” type moments that comes along only so often.
We were not disappointed.
Well, that might depend on where you were born.
The last time Canada and the United States had met in the final at the world junior hockey championship, American-born defenceman John Carlson became a national hero when he scored his second goal of the game in Canada’s 6-5 overtime win.
“I remember rushing home from practice to watch that game,” said Team USA captain Luke Kunin. “My coach came over and it was me, him and my dad in our basement watching the golden goal.”
Two months later, Sidney Crosby would score an even bigger “golden goal” when he went five-hole in overtime on American goalie Ryan Miller at the 2010 Olympics. As Canada forward Mathew Barzal said, “That’s probably the biggest Canada-U.S. moment that I know.”
And now this:
Following three periods of back-and-forth hockey and an overtime that might have been the single most entertaining 20 minutes of scoreless hockey imaginable, the Americans won the gold at the 2017 tournament 5-4 in an shootout. Troy Terry, who a day earlier had gone 3-for-3 in the shootout against Russia, scored the only shootout goal while goalie Tyler Parsons stopped all five shooters he faced. His Canadian counterpart Carter Hart was almost equal to the challenge, allowing just the one goal.
“Today, I was lucky enough to score, but Tyler Parsons is definitely the shootout hero,” said Terry. “He went in there and stopped all five. That’s just a testament to how great he’s been all tournament.”
Yes, this lived up to the billing and the hype — and then some. After weeks of playing in front of half-empty arenas in Toronto and Montreal, a sold-out crowd finally showed up when it mattered. Unfortunately for Canada, so did the U.S.
“I wanted to get that gold medal. It’s something that I’ll dream about my whole life,” said Canadian defenceman Thomas Chabot, who was named tournament MVP and was also one of five returning players who finished in sixth place a year ago in Helsinki, Finland. “Obviously it’s nice to get awards but I didn’t get the result that I wanted.”
Despite the way it ended, this one was a game for the ages.
It was a wild game of momentum swings and back-and-forth line rushes, where the action never seemed to stall and where no two-goal lead was safe. Canada scored twice in the first period. The U.S. scored twice in the second. And both teams combined for four goals in the third, leading to a finish that deserved better than a breakaway skills competition.
When asked if this year’s loss was harder than last year’s, Chabot, with bloodshot eyes, said it wasn’t even a question.
“Yeah, a lot harder,” he said. “To lose that game in a shootout, especially was a lot harder than last year. I would’ve rather keep going. We had so many chances in the overtime and then to get in the shootout . . . I would’ve liked to have another period. But that’s the way hockey is.”
It was the fourth time that the U.S. and Canada had played in the final and the third time that the U.S. had come out on top. And yet, the Canadians have no reason to hang their heads.
“We’re proud of the guys,” said Team Canada head coach Dominique Ducharme. “Guys went all out and gave everything they had. Obviously, we’re disappointed for our guys, because they worked so hard. To leave the rink empty tonight is disappointing for them.”
The U.S. had defeated Canada 3-1 in the final game of the preliminary round, in part because Canada had got in penalty trouble and couldn’t figure a way to find the net around the American shot-blockers. It had been Canada’s worst game of the tournament and the lessons of that loss were on full display in the re-match.
Canada pushed the pace early, seemingly as though it had been saving an extra gear especially for this game. On the second shift of the first period, Mitchell Stephens rang a shot off the post. Shortly after, Barzal weaved the puck through the offensive zone and found a pinching Chabot for a backdoor pass, giving Canada a 1-0 lead.
Four minutes later, a U.S. defenceman used his glove to swat a puck out of the defensive zone. Instead, it landed on the stick of defenceman Jeremy Lauzon, who extended Canada’s lead to 2-0.
For a while, the Americans had no answer for Canada’s speed and puck pursuit. But that didn’t mean they went quietly. Of course, they had Canada to thank for that.
A bad line change allowed U.S. defenceman Charlie McAvoy to walk in alone and pick the top corner to cut Canada’s lead in half. After taking a too-many-men penalty, the U.S. tied the game on a pinball-like shot on the power play that bounced in off forward Kiefer Bellows.
With the score tied 2-2, the stage was set heading into a wild third period that combined the first two periods into one.
Goals from Nicolas Roy and Mathieu Joseph two minutes and 13 seconds apart gave Canada a 4-2 lead early in the third period. But 39 seconds later, Bellows and Colin White answered back for the U.S. just as quickly, scoring twice in two minutes and 23 seconds.
It was that kind of game. Hopefully, we don’t have to wait another seven years for the next one.