Friday, January 6, 2017

"And The Building is Quiet Again"

It was the call by Glenn Davis (I think that’s who covered for Gary Thorn) after John Carlson won the Gold Medal in the 2010 World Junior Final Saskatoon. That was the game that got me hooked on the WJC. It was also the phrase running through my head overtime the US scored last night. I don’t think I have missed watching/listening a US game since then and it was during that game that I said to myself “I have to one day go to a USA-Canada final.” It was one of those events you put on the proverbial “hockey bucket list.” Well, last night I not only got to cross it off one list, I was able to add it to another.
Team USA celebrates after winning gold in at the WJC in
(Photo by Matt Dresens)
I have been lucky enough to attend some of the most compelling hockey games of the last decade and a half, and that game last night absolutely is now on that list. From the Bruins game 7’s against Tampa (’11) and Toronto (’13), to BU’s unforgettable comeback in the 2009 National Title game, I think last night’s USA-Canada final slides nicely in the top five best/most memorable games I’ve attended.

Standing in the last row of the Bell Center in a USA jersey and being one of four other Americans in the section, was terrifying (almost as frighting as that time I was in the BC student section at Conte), but yet still really fun. What was better is every time the US would score and I would jump up and scream, I would get the dirtiest looks. Ah… sad Canadian hockey fans are my favorite.

Wednesday’s game against Russia will undoubtedly get overshadowed with what happened in the gold medal game, but that was another incredibly memorable hockey game.

Overall, what a pair of games. What an unbelievable performance by the US. What a way to win a Gold Medal… What a freaking experience. It’s certainly one I will not forget.

Jordan Greenway
Throughout the entire tournament, Greenway looked more dominant than ever. He not only was an absolute force behind the net when using his size and strength, but his passing was superb. The feed to Charlie McAvoy to set up the first US goal last night was textbook, but wasn’t even his best. That happened in the second period on Wednesday against Russia when he threaded a seed over to Wisconsin’s Luke Kunin who tipped home the then go-ahead goal for the US.

Even outside the score sheet and flashy highlights, Greenway looked like a different player. He seemed to play with a ton of confidence and that along with his freight train-like approach bodes well for a strong second half.

Players coming back from the WJC have always seemed to have some extra jump. In 2008, Colin Wilson had 12 points (4 goals, 8 assists) before heading to Ottawa for that year’s tournament. When he came back, he was a different player. Something had clicked. The freshman Wilson finished the ’08 campaign with 35 points and helped dig BU out of the bottom of the league standings to a respectable second place finish.

Kieffer Bellows
We could be looking at something like that with Bellows. The freshman from Edina, Minnesota scored no goals in the first six games of the tournament but erupted for two huge goals in the final. Granted, Harvard’s Adam Fox hit him in the ass with a shot and it deflected in, but it was a big time goal. For a kid who was benched during a game and was a healthy scratch for another prior to WJC camp, those two goals last night have to give Bellows a world of confidence coming back to BU.

Charlie McAvoy
I’ve been talking about confidence a lot in this post, but no one had more of it than McAvoy, at least in the goal medal game. Seriously, the guy was all over the place. He got the US on the board with what one twitter account called an “electricity missile” and then set up Bellows for the third US goal, one that looked a lot like the Nick Bonino goal to tie the national title game in ’09. People in my section who realized he was a Bruins draft pick started giving him the “Chara boo” every time he touched the puck. Yeah, he was pretty dominant. In total, including the overtime session, he had 35:33 of ice time. Only Caleb Jones had more for the US. Canada’s Thomas Chabot played a ridiculous 43:53 to lead all players in time on ice.

TSN's Bob McKenzie said McAvoy's performance was "one for the ages" and it "blew me away with how well he played in this tournament."

All in all, the US scored 27 goals and BU players had 29 points… not bad.

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