In a game that few gave the United States much, if any, chance to win, the United States dominated the most talented team in the tournament, Canada, and walked away with a 5-1 win to advance to the gold medal game of the World Junior Championships.
Canada losing by a margin like that on this stage simply doesn't happen. TSN said today was Canada's worst loss at the World Juniors since 1982, which was back when this tournament was an afterthought for the Canadians. This Canadian team, hungry from three straight disappointments in this tournament, and sporting five players with NHL experience thanks to the NHL lockout, seemed destined to walk through the tournament on their way to gold.
American goalie John Gibson was outstanding once again. Great goaltending is a rarity in this tournament, and what Gibson has done has been a huge advantage for the Americans. And today, unlike in the preliminary round, the US offense took advantage of that great goal play and was able to generate some offense of their own. Wisconsin's Jake McCabe scored two goals and added an assist, Boston College's John Gaudreau scored twice, and Harvard's Jim Vesey scored a goal, making it a clean sweep for NCAA players among Team USA's goal scorers.
The US/Canada rivalry, especially at the World Juniors, had seemed to grow a little stale over the past year or two. Part of that can be blamed on these games being played in Europe, in front of a quieter arena, at goofy times for the western world. Much of it can be blamed on the US just not being that good in the past couple WJCs. But today's game reignites that rivalry, and in a big way, which ultimately is great for the game of hockey.
The US now advances to the gold medal game on Saturday to face the winner of the other semifinal between the Russians and the Swedes. It will be the United States' first trip to the final since they won the tournament in 2010 in Saskatoon.