Before the Canada vs. USA World Junior Hockey Championship gold medal game and the Edmonton Oilers vs Phoenix Coyotes NHL games were even started I was already thinking about how this article would look. It had the premise of Canada wins gold for a 6th straight year and the Oilers sucked as usual.
Then when the games started I had to start reconsidering what I was thinking. After the first period with the game tied at 2 it was still going to be Canada winning gold but I was very impressed by the USA team speed and determination and was going to have to add that in somewhere. Over in the other game the Oilers were doing what I expected at this time; losing 1-0.
1 minute into the second period the USA scored to go up 3-2. Just less than 3 minutes later Canada tied it up for the second time. It was at this point that the USA won the gold medal in my opinion. They pulled their starting goalie, Mike Lee, and replaced him with Jack Campbell. That change seemed to buoy the American team and until the last 3 minutes of the third period, Campbell stoned the Canadians at every chance they had. On the other side, Canadian starter Jake Allen was equally as shaky as Lee and finally was replaced after the 5th USA goal at 6:23 of the third period by Martin Jones. With under 14 minutes to go in a gold medal game was too late to be making that change. Canadian Coach Willie Desjardins threw a cold Jones to the wolves so to speak and I think Jones was at least partially at fault on the OT winner by the USA’s John Carlson. Goalies in any sport are coached with the understanding that nothing beats you short side. You have to at least have that covered. The winning goal went short side. I give a hat tip to USA coach Dean Blais for making the change he did when he did. Congratulations to team USA for a great tournament. We look forward to beating you next year when the tournament is on your home soil.
Team Canada played the first semi-final of the World Junior Hockey Championships this afternoon against a very surprising Swiss team. The Swiss found their way to the semi-finals by stunning Russia 3-2 in overtime during their quarter final game on Saturday. To say this was an upset is a huge understatement. I don’t think that when the tournament began there was anyone, other than the odd delusional Swiss fan, that would have predicted they would be playing in the semi-finals.
The game started pretty much as predicted with Canada getting an early goal on the power play off the stick of Edmonton Oilers prospect Jordan Eberle. After that, the rest of the first period was scoreless although the Canadians dominated much of the play but were unable to solve Swiss goalie Benjamin Conz. Conz was one of the main reasons the Swiss beat Russia yesterday as he had 50 saves on 52 shots. Both teams had powerplays throughout the remainder of the first.
Canada came out flat to start the second period and gave the Swiss a couple of early power plays chances to even the score but the Canadians ended up with a great short handed goal by Marco Scandella. This was followed less than 2 minutes later with a great play by Taylor Hall to make it 3-0. Canada continued to play lazy and soon after took their third penalty of the period. The Swiss finally capitalized to make it 3-1. The Canadians still didn’t learn and took their 4th penalty of the period but they were able to kill this penalty off and were able to close out the period with a 3-1 lead.