Nightmare finish for Canada
Nightmare finish for Canada
Host U.S. takes bronze with 10-3 rout
The previous largest margin of victory was when Sweden beat Belarus 7-1 in the 2000 bronze game.
Even though the Americans did not win their third straight IIHF U18 World Championship in Grand Forks, they captured a medal for the 12th consecutive year, a streak unmatched by any other nation.
"It’s definitely heartbreaking when you lose in the semis, but it definitely feels unbelievable to get a medal with the U.S. guys," said U.S. forward Kailer Yamamoto. "I’m going to cherish it for the rest of my life."
Logan Brown stepped up with two goals and an assist, and Joey Anderson added two goals. Yamamoto had a goal and two assists. Kieffer Bellows, Nicholas Pastujov, Zachary Walker, Griffin Luce, and William Lockwood also scored for the Americans. Clayton Keller had three assists. Casey Mittelstadt and James Greenway had two helpers apiece.
Incredibly, in this rout, shots on goal only favored the Americans 33-32.
Many had expected a U.S.-Canada matchup in the gold medal game. In fact, this is the first time since 2001 that neither North American team made the final. Certainly, nobody saw today's result coming.
"We just weren’t prepared," said Canadian captain and tournament scoring leader Tyson Jost. "We talked after the loss against Sweden about shelving things, putting it behind us and looking forward to today. We had a really bad first. In the second and third we picked it up. But when it came down to it, we weren’t prepared."
It matched the most lopsided U.S. win over Canada in U18 history -- also Canada's worst loss ever. The Americans beat Canada 10-3 in their first meeting ever on April 18, 2002.
"I couldn’t be more proud of how the guys came out and played hard and played the right way," said U.S. coach Danton Cole.
Canada’s gold-or-bust mentality betrayed it here in shocking fashion. This was a horrendous end to the tournament for a team that had gone undefeated until falling 6-5 to Sweden in a semi-final shootout.
William Bitten, Connor Hall, and Owen Tippett scored for Canada, which last won gold in 2013. The Canadians go home without medals for the first time since 2011.
Keller, the American scoring leader, looked like he was on a mission the day after his late tripping penalty led to Finland’s winning power play goal in the semi-final.
"Not being in that gold medal game is tough, and it’s hard to bounce back and play the next day," said Keller. "But we got together and we just wanted to play our best game of the tournament since it was our last game as a team together."
The U.S. drew first blood at 4:40 on the power play. Keller considered his options in the left faceoff circle before feeding it down low to Anderson, who stuffed it past Canadian goalie Stuart Skinner.
Just 31 seconds later, the Canadians got their wires crossed in front of their net, and with the goalie out of position, Brown whipped it into the open side.
Coach Shaun Clouston called his timeout to regroup, and at 6:31, Canada cut the deficit to 2-1. Mason Shaw stickhandled behind the net and slipped a backhand pass out front to Bitten, who beat U.S. netminder Jake Oettinger.
The U.S. made it 3-1 less than a minute later. Greenway pinched in and handed the puck off to Keller in the left faceoff circle. He swivelled and found Bellows coming on the opposite side, and Skinner couldn’t get across fast enough.
That was it for Skinner, who was yanked in favor of Fitzpatrick. It made little difference. At 11:10, Brown got free in the slot and whizzed home his second of the afternoon.
"All night long, the U.S. had answers for everything we were doing," said Clouston.
The fifth U.S. goal came shorthanded at 14:11. Fitzpatrick stopped Keller on a breakaway, but couldn’t prevent Anderson from converting the rebound.
"I think we overpowered them, and they couldn’t really handle us," said Keller.
At 16:48, it was 6-1 for the Americans, as Pastujov scored on the glove side.
Fabbro and Keller exchanged unsuccessful breakaways at the end of the first. If Keller had scored, the U.S. would have equalled the tournament record for most goals in one period (seven). It was a more dazzling display than the laser show at the Ralph Engelstad Arena during the first intermission.
Early in the second period, the U.S. went up 7-1 on the power play. Yamamoto banged in a loose puck at 1:27.
As the score mounted, the Canadians ran around taking their frustrations out on their opponents. Canada’s Boris Katchouk got a penalty shot at 14:45, but Oettinger calmly pokechecked him.
"Obviously, when the score gets that out of hand, you get frustrated and you want to do everything you can to claw your way back into the game," said Jost. "We did take a few penalties, some that were stupid and others that were just from us working hard and trying to get hits."
At 4:22 of the third period, Walker got the 8-1 goal on a breakaway, lost his footing, and slid into Fitzpatrick. That sparked a fracas with more penalties. Less than a minute later, Luce gave the Americans their ninth goal with a point drive on a 5-on-3.
Rather unkindly, the arena DJ played Tom Petty's "Even the Losers" when Hall tallied for Canada at 7:06 to make it 9-2. At 11:19, Tippett put home a rebound for Canada's third goal.
Lockwood rounded out the scoring for the U.S., roofing it with 1:01 left.
Even though USA Hockey didn't come away golden, this year's result provides continued validation for its National Team Development Program based in Plymouth, Michigan.
"It shows how great USA Hockey has become," said Yamamoto. "It’s been a great experience."
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