If there were any doubts about the motivation of Team Canada coming into their New Year’s Eve game against Team USA, they were quickly dispelled as Team Canada jumped on the U.S. for three first period goals to finish the period ahead 3-0. The lead held up as Team Canada beat Team U.S.A 3-2.
Dominating First Period
Team Canada got things going with a goal from who else, Mark Stone of the Brandon Wheat Kings. Stone, who has scored in every game, scored his seventh goal of the tournament six minutes into the first period on the power play. Stone has scored Canada’s first goal in three games, setting the stage for the team and making an immediate impact each time he plays.
Stone then set up Braden Schwartz for Canada’s second goal. Brett Connolly scored Canada’s third goal of the period on a two on one with just over four minutes left in the period, effectively ending the night for Team USA. Along with Stone, Connolly has also scored in all four games for Team Canada.
Johnathan Huberdeau continued his strong play in the tournament and picked up his seventh assist of the tournament on the Mark Stone goal. At the end of the period the fans gave Team Canada a well earned standing ovation for a period that both the crowd and coach Don Hey were impressed with.
Once Canada took a 3-0 lead into the second period, the game became an ugly after. Not of the rough and dirty type, but an uninspired effort by both sides, with Canada coasting and Team USA seeming to give up and conceeding the game. The game was quite dull at times. Of course neither team had anything to play for. Team Canada had already wrapped up first place and the Americans were demoted to the regulation round.
Team USA- Third period
American pride seemed to shine through in the third period as the U.S. scored two goals in a span of minutes with a little over 10 minutes left to make the score 3-2. The Americans then had a chance to tie the game. However, Canadian goaltender Scott Wedgewood shut the door on any comeback by the Americans.
The tournament has been a big disappointment for the Americans. The favorites to win gold coming into the tournament, the Americans failed to make it to the medal round and will finish, 7th place at best. The must now play two more games to avoid regulation. In fairness to the Americans though, they outplayed both Finland and the Czech Republic, but were stymied by great goaltending. In the two games, the US had almost 100 shots on goal, yet they had a hard time scoring goals. However, gold medal winning teams find a way to put the puck in the net.
Monday is the start of the quarter finals as the Czech Republic takes on Russia (a 4-3 loser to Sweden) in one quarter-final, while Slovakia takes on Finland in the other quarter-final. Both Canada and Sweden get byes into the semi-finals, with Canada playing the winner of the Czech-Russia game.