The Gold Medal Game is here.
It has happened. The matchup everyone wanted but almost no one thought would materialize, has almost magically appeared. The USA vs Canada
Big bad Canada, with their 19 first-round draft picks, has never been tested and has not given up a goal in the medal round of this championship, could have gotten to the Gold Medal game playing just the backups.
Team USA, embarrassed in the first period of game one of the world Junior Championship, buckled down, dug deep, and believed in themselves. They went almost 12 periods without allowing a goal. Just as a goalie controversy started to percolate, Spenser Knight and Dustin Wolf quickly unplugged the pot and put an end to that.
The Favorite, Team Canada
Team Canada came into this tournament as the teacher’s pet. The kid who knows all the answers the one everyone else loves, but you hate them with the heat of 10000 suns. This team is stacked. Not once in this semi-bubble were, they ever tested. They have never trailed in the championship. This is the best team in the world bar none. We do not even have to play this game, Canada has already won the gold, at least in the minds of most.
Errrrrr. (the sound of breaks screeching.) Those are the same words that were uttered when a bunch of college kids from Boston and Minnesota came together under Coach Herb Brooks. Not that this team USA is that team USA.
This Team Canada is that Team USSR. That is right I think they are that good. Canada lost its captain, Chicago Blackhawk, Kerby Dach to a wrist injury and it did not phase this team one ounce.
Canada is led by tournament scoring co-leader Dylan Cozen who has eight goals and eight assists for 16 points. That is double the points of both Conner McMichael and Peyton Krebs who have each tallied eight points.
Canada leads in every category but special teams. The USA has a slight edge in both the power play and the penalty kill.
Watching Team Canada skate is like staring at the Sistine Chapel Ceiling. Its beauty captivates you. The longer your eyes stayed locked on it, the brighter the colors appear. If you knew nothing of the chapel, before you walked into it, you would still know that it was a masterpiece. There is a reason the hosts are the best team in the world. They have earned that title.
They are Mike Tyson.
The Underdogs, Team USA
Now Enter Buster Douglas.
The Americans are no slouches. They know how to play. And they have earned a shot. They faced the adversity of losing the opener on Christmas day to perhaps their second biggest rival Team Russia. Knight a first-round draft pick of the Florida panthers let his team and himself down on the most special of the holidays. Knight is a gamer though, and he should be a special type of Professional player. Knight’s partner Wolf was there to prop him up and get his six. Both netminders are on the same level, even though they were drafted seven rounds apart.
On the skater side, the big name on Team USA is Cole Caufield. The 15th overall selection of the Montreal Canadians in 2019, has been a leader on and off the ice, just not on the scoreboard. Caufield has two goals and three assists for five points. While Caufield is the name, the breakout star has been Trevor Zegras.
Zegras is also the tournament co-leader in points. He has been Johnny on the spot, passing the puck like Adam Oates to Brett Hull. In the semi-final matchup with mighty Finland, Zegras along with Caufield set up Matthew Boldy to put Team USA up 3-1. But Finland who found themselves down by two against Sweden in the knockout round did not fold. After a late delay of game penalty by the USA, the Finns were able to make it 3-3.
The Finns and Slovaks both tested the Americans. Team USA has not once backed down or folded in this championship. They fought back against Russia and turned a 4-0 blowout into a 4-3 game. The Slovaks were the first team to score on Team USA since game 1, and they did it twice to scare the boys in blue.
Each time, Team USA found an extra gear, something special, and found a way to win. They did that again two minutes and 23 seconds after the Finns tied it Author Kaliyev made his way to the high slot and being the sniper that he is, set his sights, lined up on his spot, and waited on the pass from Alex Turcotte. Kaliyev became the American Sniper and put Team USA into the Gold Medal Match.
This is the Battle of North America we have waited for!!!!!!
Team USA needs to throw caution to the wind and take the motto of the 442nd infantry group and “GO FOR BROKE.” Do not be happy just to be here!!! Take it to the big bad boys up north and let them know you think they are not that good.
Win or lose this game you did what most did not think you could do.
You are in the final game of the Championship.
Now take it one step farther!!!
Canada 4-USA 2.
I got faith but Canada has 19 first-round draft picks.
The Gold Medal Game will be amazing.
Till next time Hockey FANS.
Do not forget to drop me a comment or three
Remember by a fan, for the fans, and most definitely About YOU the FAN.
Guy “Hawaii Blues Fan” Bensing