With their eleventh World Junior Championship Gold Medal just twenty minutes away, a 3-1 lead destined to end a six-year Gold drought, Team Canada seemed to be free and clear to return home with Gold in tow, helmed by future stars Sidney Crosby, Jeff Carter and Marc-André Fleury.
But a cataclysmic twenty minutes, highlighted by a brutal own-goal given up by Fleury, turned elation into devastation in Helsinki, and allowed the United States to capture their first ever World Championship title, retaining the International Hockey Lineal Championship in the process.
Canada jumped out to an early lead just 3:25 into the opening frame, with Nigel Dawes sidestepping the U.S. defence and roofing the puck glove side over a stunned Al Montoya for the early lead. Dan Fritsche would even things up five and a half minutes later, taking a Dan Richmond drop pass behind the net and fooling Fleury on a wraparound, beating him five-hole to even the score. Fleury and Montoya would manage to hold down the fort for the rest of the frame, sending the game to a 1-1 tie after one.
Canada took the reigns in the second, with Dawes striking again just a dozen seconds into the period, tipping in a point shot after a failed American clearing attempt to retake the 2-1 lead. Canada would double up the lead when Anthony Stewart took a Dawes cross-ice pass, raced down the wing, and beat Montoya five-hole to take the lead at 3-1. Despite being equal on penalties and only ahead by five shots after forty minutes, Canada looked to be in the clear. But Team USA, and Patrick O’Sullivan in particular, had other ideas.
The comeback started 4:39 into the final frame, with the Americans sprung on a 3-on-2 break, where O’Sullivan took a Patrick Eaves feed and roofed the puck on Fleury’s glove side to put the game at 3-2. Ryan Kesler would tie the game just 2:19 later, taking advantage of a distracted Fleury on another 3-on-2 to be left alone in front of the Canadian goal, swatting in a loose puck that floated overtop Fleury and slowly into the net, evening the score at 3-3.
Both sides unsurprisingly took to a more defensive game, but a sprung puck on what should have been a routine clearing attempt for Fleury turned to disaster, with Fleury deflecting the puck off his own defender, Braydon Coburn, and back into his own net, with O’Sullivan challenging for the puck. A crushed Fleury lay facedown in his own crease while a stunned O’Sullivan celebrated with teammates, knowing they just needed to hang on for 5:12 to win their first Gold, a task they were successful in, giving Team USA their first World Junior Championship in 27 years.
With the win, Team USA retains their sixth International Hockey Lineal Championship title, which they won two days earlier from hosts Finland in a 2-1 Semifinal victory. The win was just the third victory for Team USA in nine IHLC meetings against Canada, their first meeting since New Year’s Eve 1998, and was only the second Gold Medal meeting between these two, the first being Canada’s tenth title in 1997. The U.S. would go on to hold the IHLC until the following year’s World Junior Championship, dropping the title to Belarus in their final Group Round game in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
03:25 – GOAL – Dawes (Stewart)
08:57 – GOAL – Fritsche (Richmond, Moore)
09:52 – PEN – Crosby, hooking
16:04 – PEN – Likens, charging
20:12 – GOAL – Dawes (Richards, Stewart)
21:16 – PEN – Phaneuf, high sticking
25:58 – PEN – Stuart, roughing
27:16 – PEN – Suter, interference
30:35 – PEN – Gorges, cross checking
32:56 – GOAL – Stewart (Dawes)
44:39 – GOAL – O’Sullivan (Eaves, Stafford)
46:58 – GOAL – Kesler (Richmond)
54:48 – GOAL – O’Sullivan
W: Montoya (27-30)
L: Fleury (24-28)
SHOTS ON GOAL
12+6+10 = 28
12+11+7 = 30
Goaltenders: Al Montoya, Dominic Vicari. Defence: Matt Carle, Matt Hunwick, Jeff Likens, Corey Potter, Dan Richmond, Mark Stuart, Ryan Suter, James Wisniewski. Forwards: David Booth, Jake Dowell, Patrick Eaves, Dan Fritsche, Ryan Kesler, Greg Moore, Brady Murray, Zach Parise, Patrick O’Sullivan, Drew Stafford, Brett Sterling, Steve Werner.
Goaltenders: Marc-André Fleury, Josh Harding. Defence: Shawn Belle, Braydon Coburn, Josh Gorges, Kevin Klein, Derek Meech, Dion Phaneuf, Brent Seabrook. Forwards: Tim Brent, Brent Burns, Jeff Carter, Jeremy Colliton, Sidney Crosby, Nigel Dawes, Stephen Dixon, Ryan Getzlaf, Daniel Paille, Mike Richards, Anthony Stewart, Maxime Talbot, Jeff Tambellini.
|UNITED STATES (C)||vs.||CANADA|
(+ 1 tie)
|First IHLC Meeting (USA vs. CAN)
CAN 5-2 USA – 12/29/1985 – WJC – Hamilton
|Previous IHLC Meeting (USA vs. CAN)
USA 5-2 CAN – 12/31/1998 – WJC – Winnipeg
|Last IHLC Game
USA 2-1 FIN – 01/03/2004 – WJC – Helsinki
|Next IHLC Game
USA 6-3 GER – 12/22/2004 – EX – Thief River Falls