After conquering Team Canada 5-1 it was time this morning for Team USA to play in their 3rd Gold Medal game since 2004. In the wee hours of the day (US time) Captain McCabe led his team onto the ice to take on Sweden in this 2013 World Juniors Championship in Ufa, Russia.
About five minutes into the game Team Sweden acquired the first penalty, followed by another soon after which gave Team USA a two-man advantage for 35 seconds. Although the Americans fought hard on the power play and took several shots on net, Sweden goaltender Niklas Lundstrom was ready to go.
Halfway through the first Grimaldi had a terrific chance at a goal with a shot that hit two posts. Ting-ting, not yet Grimaldi…
Gaudreau pulled Team USA’s first penalty of the game with a hooking call, but the boys in blue made the penalty kill look easy.
For the second time in the tournament, Cornell’s Cole Bardreau was called on a penalty for contact with the goaltender, although it could be argued, and was from the chatter on Twitter, that he was simply driving the net.
After 20 minutes of play with 11-7 shots in favor of Team USA the Gold Medal game remained scoreless.
Starting on a power play, Team Sweden skated hard to the net and Philip Sandberg managed to take it top shelf on U.S. goalie Gibson for an early 1-0 in the 1st.
To tie it up 1-1 Rocco Grimaldi scored an exciting deep-angle goal for Team USA with 12:18 left in the 2nd.
Not more than a few minutes later Grimaldi, the 19-year old redshirt freshman at North Dakota, scores his second goal for Team USA, making it 2-1.
There was a noticeable increase in urgency during the 3rd period of this game. A little more aggression from the teams, a little more anxiety for the fans.
Grimaldi drew a penalty, but the Americans did their job and killed Team Sweden’s power play without a glitch. The defense of Team USA played impeccably in this game, especially in the 3rd period.
As the last 2 minutes counted down it was fairly clear that the U.S. was going to walk away with the golden ticket. In a last ditch attempt Team Sweden pulled their goaltender, and that’s when Team USA secured the win.
3-1 was the final score, Team USA proving victorious over Sweden.
Player of the Game went to Rocco Grimaldi, and Best Defenseman (tournament) to Jacob Trouba, no surprises there.
As the commentators mentioned during the game, we ran out of superlatives for Team USA goaltender John Gibson. Gibson was unequivocally the MVP of this tournament, and obviously the winner of the Best Goaltender Award, being the sixth American goalie to do so.
Since 1977 Team USA has won 8 medals in the IIHF World U20 Championships. Today marked that 8th medal. Luckily, for the Americans, it was the Gold. Defeating last year’s champion Swedes 3-1, Team USA can be proud of themselves as they come home to celebrate their well-deserved victory.
(Photo Credit: Twitter @IIHFHockey and @USAhockey)