/Flying High: The American Perspective of the 2017 World Juniors Gold Medal Game

Flying High: The American Perspective of the 2017 World Juniors Gold Medal Game

Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in Miracles? Yes!

I love watching anything having to do with the ‘Miracle on Ice’. Hearing that famous call by Al Michaels makes me giddy. Watching videos of that 1980 Gold Medal team never gets old. I can hear the names in my head: Mike Eruzione, Jack O’Callahan, Jimmy Craig, Herb Brooks.

Of course, it had to be Mike Eruzione who had to score the game-winning goal against the Soviets. The captain had to do it. It was a 3rd period goal that put the scrawny Americans in front of professional soldiers from the USSR.

Most people don’t know that the USA still had another game to win if they were to get Gold. Back then, the Olympic hockey structure was different. If a team made the medal-round, they were put into another round-robin structure of games. Points from games between those teams in the preliminary round carried over into the medal round. Whichever team had the most points at the end of the medal round became the Gold Medalists.

Due to this, the Soviets could still snatch away the Gold if things went their way.

The Americans played Finland two nights later. Losing 2-1 in the 2nd intermission, Herb Brooks ripped into the team. Three goals in the 3rd period meant that the United States of America won the hockey game by a score of 4-2 and the Gold Medal. The Soviets won (or, lost the Gold) the Silver, behind the USA by one point.

That team inspired a new generation of players in America. Mike Richter, Jeremy Roenick, Brett Hull, the list goes on. The game was not even shown live; it was on a tape-delay. There are stories of bantam hockey games being postponed to watch the ending of the ‘Miracle on Ice’.

Fast-forward 37 years. Times have been tough for USA hockey. After beating Team Canada in the 2010 World Juniors, they proceeded to lose to Canada in the Olympic Gold Medal game with Sidney Crosby’s ‘Golden Goal’.

I remember watching this game at the time. I was only 12. Not old enough to pay full attention to any international hockey tournament at the time. But the Olympics were the Olympics.

The desperation I had in that final minute of regulation turned into exasperation when Zach Parise scored the game-tying goal with 20 seconds left. I was jumping off the wall! We tied the game! We might beat Canada!

Queue the ‘Golden Goal’.

I’m an American. I’m a Flyers fan. That moment really sucked. Also, 2010 was not a year of fun endings for myself in the world of hockey.

To me, an international hockey Gold was only a Gold if we beat Team Canada for it.

I didn’t know what to feel. The pain in the pit of my stomach was massive. It was the first huge loss of my hockey-watching life. But, that moment solidified my generation’s hatred and jealously of Team Canada.

See, I myself hate to lose. I really do. Being a Philadelphia sports fan makes me want to rip my hair out at moments. But, the satisfaction of winning just is so much greater after years of constant losing.

To me, an international hockey Gold was only a Gold if we beat Team Canada for it.

usa_goal_celebration

In 2013, Team USA beat Sweden for the Gold Medal in the World Junior Championships. That was the year before I started watching the tournament. I don’t recall much from it. It was the third win for Team USA in the World Juniors.

2014 was the year of the famous shootout between the USA and Russia, where TJ Oshie scored multiple shootout goals to beat Russia. That was an amazing moment to watch live. Oshie became an American hockey hero overnight (or, in the afternoon, as the game was at 7:30am ET).

That was the high point of those Olympics.

The Americans lost the semifinal match-up against Canada 1-0. I wanted to just collapse after that game. In fact, in the Gold Medal game for the women’s tournament, I did collapse due to the Americans collapsing.

I don’t shed too many tears after my sports team loses, but this was an exception. Team USA was up by 2 with around 3 minutes left in the game. With help from an empty net shot from the defensive zone that hit the post, Team Canada came back to tie the game up with two late goals. In overtime, after a slashing call I still am mad about, the Canadians won the game on the powerplay, and subsequently, the Gold.

I shed a tear. I’ll be honest.

800px-usa-can_womens27_hockey_28429_281462266818629

The men’s team lost to Finland 5-0 in the bronze medal game. The team just didn’t care. I didn’t care. The bronze is no constellation prize for Team USA.

A few months ago, the 2016 World Cup of Hockey took place. With a team full of ‘grit’ that was ‘built to beat Team Canada’, they somehow managed to not only lose to Canada, but also to every other team in the tournament. 0-3 in the preliminary stage meant that there would not even be a lick of knockout stages. The American management selected players like Justin Abdelkader over players like Phil Kessel and Kyle Okposo. The embarrassment led to players who were snubbed to take to Twitter:

This was truly a low-point for American hockey.

Welcome to the World Juniors.

For once, the Americans were the favorites to win. Finally, we did win.

Finally, we beat Canada in the Gold.

I don’t need to explain what happened. I don’t need to explain the pain that has gone through the core of United States hockey over the past few years. I don’t need to go over the magic of Troy “TJ Oshie” Terry.

Finally, the frustration was over.

We beat Canada!

2-0. 2-2. 4-2. 4-4. That’s what the scores swayed from. The USA never once held the lead in the game.

Overtime came and went. It contained some of the most exciting and heart-stopping moments in hockey history. Tyler Parsons stopped all 18 shots in that overtime period.

When the USA got a bench minor for having too many men on the ice, I dropped to my knees. I tried to calm myself down. “It’s over.” I thought.

We were going to lose to Canada.

It was a feeling so synonymous with being an American fan.

But, this was no normal team. We beat the Russians for the first time ever in the knockout stage; it was the 8th try. This team hadn’t lost a game yet.

And they killed off the penalty.

The shootout came. The Americans won. Team USA beat Canada for the Gold.

I jumped for joy. I ran upstairs. I fell to my knees; this time, it was of jubilation.

I had a grin that lasted for hours. We finally did it.

Team USA beat the Canadians for Gold.

Never mind that they beat Canada in 2010, or 2004, or even in the 1996 World Cup.

This time, it was for my generation.

This time, it was different.


Dylan Coyle is a “The Wraparound” columnist for Good Night, Good Hockey. You can follow him on Twitter @10phillyphan.

Dylan has the goal of one day becoming a professional sports broadcaster. He is responsible for the foundation of Good Night, Good Hockey, and he runs the WFC Takeover. He also writes for Broad Street Hockey. The primary way of contacting Dylan is at this email: dcoyle@gnghockey.com.