If there was one word I continually uttered after the U.S. Men’s National Under-18 Team’s overtime win against Canada, it was wow. Team USA defeated Canada, 5-4, in overtime in the semifinals at the 2011 IIHF World Men’s Under-18 Championship. Tyler Biggs scored the game winner after Canada erased a 4-1 third-period deficit to force extra time.
It was a wild game, to put it about as mildly as possible.
Team USA went down 1-0 after a Brett Ritchie power-play tip-in. J.T. Miller tied the game after he blocked a Ryan Murphy shot and went down the right-wing and fired a wrister through Malcolm Subban’s legs.
In the second, Team USA looked to be in control, pouring 21 shots on goal. The U.S. was only able to muster one goal, as Reid Boucher notched his sixth of the tournament with his trademark top-right snipe from the left faceoff circle.
In the third, the game initially looked in control as Team USA scored twice shorthanded… on the same penalty. Zac Larraza broke down the right side and rifled a wrister into the top-right corner as Subban could only wave at the puck. Shortly thereafter, Miller won a clean faceoff to Boucher, who just threw the puck on net. It caromed off of Subban’s stick and in. Not the prettiest goal, but the U.S. was more than happy to take it.
Despite the three-goal deficit Canada never gave up and kept plugging away. Eventually, the Canadians netted the game-tying goal with just 51 seconds remaining in regulation. It looked like the momentum had officially shifted.
Tyler Biggs put an end to that after John Gibson blockered a Ryan Murphy shot that found its way to Biggs. The power forward streaked down the right wing and put a hard wrist shot into the bottom left corner ending the game. It was a great shot and a big goal for one of the leaders on the U.S. team.
Biggs had struggled in the preliminary round, but looked solid against Canada. I think the goal against Canada was a bit of vindication and should give the big forward a some confidence going into the gold-medal game. That will be a big boost for Team USA.
John Gibson, despite the late-game comeback was solid. Three of Canada’s four goals were on the power play and the last was with an extra attacker. He stopped 38 shots. Gibson probably thinks he could be better, but he’s still the winning goalie and made several key saves early when it looked like Canada was pushing the pace.
I think Team USA feels pretty fortunate to have come out of that game with a win, but at the end of the day, the only thing that matters is scoring more than the other team. I’m sure there will be a few adjustments made and a few meetings had to address the late-game comeback, but all-in-all the U.S. needs to play its own game against a very talented Sweden team.
Hats off to Canada for a gutsy effort. That was a serious comeback there. They just never went away, but couldn’t score the last goal.
Sorry for the short post, but we’ve got a quick turnaround. I’ll have a full preview up tomorrow morning.
USA – Sweden — 6:30 p.m. (12:30 p.m. EDT) — LIVE on FASTHockey.com.
We’ll see you back here tomorrow morning with the complete rundown of the gold-medal game.