Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Congratulations U.S. Juniors

Wasn't that a hockey game?
The gold medal game last night between Canada and the United States was reminiscent of firewagon hockey from the eighties...end to end rushes, constant momentum shifts, offensive heroics...and shaky goaltending. Sorry to say that Team Canada had more of the latter, but the United States is full measure for that overtime victory. It's only thanks to the increasingly commonplace miracle that is Jordan Eberle that that game even made it to OT.
Down 5-3 with three minutes to go, the Canadians threw the kitchen sink at Jack Campbell. The American 'tender had an answer for everything in that sink, until Eberle popped up out of the drain and willed a goal. Not even two minutes later, he did it again, tieing the match. This is nothing new for Eberle...he scored two goals at critical junctures in the gold-medal game last year (one with just seconds remaining), then potted the shootout winner versus Russia. Edmonton Oilers fans, you're looking at your future captain.

Eberle was by no means the only star on the Canadian roster. The only ingredient missing in this hockey melange--unlike in past years--was top-flight, clutch netminding. Both starting goalies were pulled last night, but the American replacement, Campbell, was a distinct upgrade, and (at least in that game) you couldn't say the same for Jones. Both he and Allen seemed to forget, at times, which Maple Leaf was on their jerseys. (Did I just type that out loud?)

But you really have to credit the Americans, because they played a stellar game. Every skater on that squad has multiple bruises this morning from shot blocks. Their presence in the shooting lanes directly led to a lethal transition game...they have some forwards who can flat-out fly. Neither did the Americans shy away from the rough stuff. In the end, they claimed a much-deserved gold.

Congratulations to them. And to team Canada. And to Saskatoon, which showed what a real hockey crowd looks like.

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