Believe it or not, the USA U-20 team, led by team Captain and Rangers prospect Derek Stepan, has defeated team Canada 6-5 in overtime in Saskatoon, Canada to win the IIHF World Junior Championship Tournament as well as the Gold Medal. I guess the best word to describe the win would be resilient, as the Americans rebounded from coughing up a two-goal lead late in the third, but displayed composure and came out with a quick game-winner in overtime.
The United States gave up the first goal to Luke Adam of team Canada about three minutes into the game. It looked as if nerves had control of the U.S. in the first five minutes, but once they were warmed up, they really got it going. Rangers prospect Chris Kreider answered with a goal of his own when he entered the offensive zone and sent a wrister over Canadian goaltender Allen to make it 1-1. From there, things got a bit out of hand with three goals scored in the matter of 2:07. Blueshirts Prospect Ryan Bourque fed Canucks Property Jordan Schroeder, who put one over Allen to give USA the temporary lead. However, Greg Nemsiz found the back of the net for Canada, meaning the game was tied at two heading into the intermission.
On a carry-over powerplay to open the second, U.S. defenseman John Carlson slapped home his first of the game, putting his squad up 3-2. About five minutes after, Lee, U.S. goalie, managed to pop a rebound high up in the air, over his shoulder and into the net. That would be it for him, as he was pulled from the game by the coach, Dean Blais. That saw back-up netminder Jack Campbell entering the game to try and solidify things in net for the "Yankees" as those up north address us as. The decision of putting Campbell in goal paid off big time. The youngster stood on his head, not allowing any goals until the final minutes off the third.
The third stanza began with Jerry D'Amigo and Rangers Prospect Derek Stepan netting back-to-back goals for the United States. Now here is where the U.S. made a mistake that Ranger fans know all too well from their time with former coach Tom Renney. They went into the neutral zone trap, which eventually failed them. Among two frantic plays with Campbell on his back, Jordan Eberle (Known as Mr. Clutch among Canada fans) scored twice in four minutes to send the game to overtime in a 5-5 tie.
Overtime started with Blueshirts Prospect Ryan Bourque, who reminds me so much of Ryan Callahan, hitting and creating chances. U.S.A. was clearly dominating in the fourth period, and then defensemen John Carlson, the hero, rifled a wristshot into the back of the net, silencing a rowdy Canadian crowd which watched the ecstatic Americans pile off the bench and jump on top of Carlson.
This was a huge win for USA hockey, but when looking at the tournament as a whole, it was also a huge win for the New York Rangers. Drafting guru Gordie Clark must have been watching this all unfold with a smile on his face, as all three of his drafted players played a major role in the success of the United States. Stepan had a goal and an assist in the contest, Kreider had a goal and Bourque with an assist. Stepan, who has Datsyuk-like hands, finished first in scoring in the entire tournament, Kreider was one of the top goal-scorers on the U.S. club, and Bourque was trusted in all situations by Dean Blais, including two shifts in the rather brief overtime period. We may be suffering now, but this Rangers team has a bright future ahead of them with these kids, just as long as GM Glen Sather does not make any ignorant mistakes which force us to lose these players. Congratulations to Team USA on a tremendous victory and tournament!