Canada tightened their game up defensively, and it showed. Mathew Dumba had a much better game, and the presence of Griffin Reinhart on defence helped solidify the defensive group. Don’t be surprised if Canada keeps this momentum rolling into their quarterfinal match against the Swiss.
Canada’s offensive core was outstanding as it has been all tournament, creating multiple scoring chances and beating Jon Gillies three times on 24 shots in the game. Nic Petan was once again great,
|Connor McDavid’s goal was crucial to Team Canada’s victory.|
with some help from Anthony Mantha, who is proving every game that he is the real deal. Canada’s second goal came from the 16-year old phenom Connor McDavid, who jammed home his own rebound to give Canada their first lead of the game and give the Americans their first deficit in the tournament. Canada sealed the deal on the power play with some nifty moves by Jonathan Drouin who centred the puck to Curtis Lazar who made no mistake, beating Gillies to give Canada a 3-1 edge. This was a huge measuring stick game for Canada’s offence, as they proved they can put up with the best in the tournament. Bo Horvat, Frederik Gauthier and Scott Laughton also chipped in on both ends of the rink to stop the American offence and help Canada surpass the Americans.
In order to beat the Americans, it would have to be Canada’s defence that would have to improve coming into the game, and they did just that. Mathew Dumba, Aaron Ekblad and Derrick Pouliot all
|Griffin Reinhart made his tournament debut.|
had exceptional games with some help from Griffin Reinhart coming off of his 4-game suspension. There were very few defensive lapses against the U.S., unlike the previous three round robin games. Canada kept the Americans to the outside for the most part, which helped Fucale out a bunch throughout the game. Although Mathew Dumba has been my scapegoat all tournament, he had a great game against the U.S., as he had virtually no turnovers and chipped in both offensively and defensively. Aaron Ekblad had a solid bounce back performance against the USA, playing a much more calm and complete game than his previous two games. Overall, Canada’s defence should be given an A+ for holding the Americans to just two goals, and they should all keep the momentum rolling heading into the quarterfinals.
After a quiet performance against the Slovaks, Zach Fucale brought his A-game against the USA. Fucale held Canada in the game for the majority of the first two periods, before Petan and McDavid
|Fucale was lights out for Team Canada.|
gave Canada the edge. After Canada gained the lead, Fucale put on the afterburners, making some key stops to keep Canada ahead, highlighted by a crucial shorthanded breakaway stop late in the game. By the end of the game, the crowd chanted “Fu-cale! Fu-cale!” as Fucale stopped the barrage of American shots headed his way. Fucale’s performance gave him the player of the game award, and likely the rest of the tournament in between the pipes. The reason that Hockey Canada put Fucale on the roster is because he’s been a winner everywhere he has gone, and today was no exception.
With the win, Canada surpasses the Americans in the division and wins Division A by one point. Canada will play the underdog Swiss team that has shown flashes of brilliance out of nowhere, while the Americans will face a tougher challenge, the Russians in their quarterfinal matchup. This was a massive measuring stick game for both teams, and Canada emerged victorious. However, it’s not the New Year’s Eve game that Canada has had trouble with in the near past, it has been the games after the New Year’s Eve clash that have left Canada searching for answers. Canada will look to continue their momentum against Team Switzerland in their quarterfinal match on Thursday. This is where the men are separated from the boys.