Canada crushes US icers in final
LAKE PLACID — With two hockey rivals vying for a gold medal in front of a packed crowd in the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, Sunday’s men’s hockey final between the United States and Canada had all the making of an instant classic.
That wasn’t the case as the Canadian men dominated the U.S. by a score of 7-2 to win its first FISU Winter World University Games medal since 2013. The win also solidified a perfect 7-0 record for Canada at the Games.
“We had one goal coming in, and that was gold,” Canadian forward Matthew Struthers said. “To achieve that with this group … I’ve never gotten so close to a group in two weeks.”
The U.S. was outmatched in nearly every single way, and it showed right away. Canada jumped out to lead when Austen Keating tipped a shot from Justin Bergeron around seven minutes into the game.
After the U.S. received a penalty for slashing, Canada used the man advantage to extend its lead. Brett Davis found the back of the net on a wrist shot from the left-hand faceoff dot.
With a 2-0 advantage in the second period, Canada scored back-to-back goals from Kyle Bollers and Zachary Lavigne within two minutes of one another around the halfway point of the period. Bollers’ goal was scored on a one-timer from Timothy Shea, while Lavigne tipped in a shot from Emmett Powell.
With 11 seconds left in the middle period, Canada’s Adam McCormick scored his team’s fifth goal on the power play.
“You can’t take penalties; even if some were incidental, that killed us,” U.S. head coach Mark Taylor said. “Plus, when you’re down … it’s tough coming back.”
Canada wrapped up its scoring barrage with a two-goal third period from Struthers and Tyler Hylland.
After a shot deflected off U.S. netminder Ryan Kenny and knocked his glove off, the puck then bounced right to Struthers, who threw it at the net, deflecting it off a U.S. player before it slowly slipped between Kenny’s legs and into the back of the net.
“I kind of just banked in,” Struthers said. “It didn’t really mean much. I was just happy to get the gold medal.”
Hylland’s goal was scored on a wrist shot over the head of Kenny with seven seconds left in the game.
“It’s unbelievable. I’m speechless. I’m so proud of that group,” Team Canada’s captain Jared Dmytriw said. “The short amount of time we had together before that tournament, how close we got. We stuck with our game plan tonight, and I couldn’t be more proud of that group.”
Outshot 47-19, the U.S. didn’t see many scoring chances, and when they did they were typically shut down by Canadian goalkeeper Kai Edmonds, who recorded 17 saves. Kenny had 40 stops.
Team USA’s first goal was scored by Sam Ruffin of Adrian College on a 5-on-3 penalty kill late in the second period. It was set up by Emmett Powell, who stole the puck in the neutral zone before going on a two-on-one break with Ruffin.
“Who would’ve thought we would’ve scored on a three-versus-five shorthanded goal? You never know,” Taylor said.
Brendan Mark scored the other goal for the U.S. on a shot from the point with five minutes left in the game. Jack Ring of SUNY Plattsburgh and Matthew Hanewall of Milwaukee School of Engineering were credited with assists.
Taylor said it was an honor just to be able to win silver with this U.S. team. The Canton native coaches Hobart College, an NCAA Division III hockey program, and he selected the team from only Division III hockey programs. It was the first time in the history of the University Games that the U.S. men’s hockey team was made up of only Division III players. In past years, it had been made up of both Division I and Division III players.
Meanwhile, Canada selected players from its top university teams.
“I think it just shows that we can compete with the best kids from the Canadian universities,” Taylor said. “I think we can be better next time. I really do. It was the first time for me and the first time for these guys.
“I talked a little bit with the Canadian coach, and he’s done it before,” he added. “You know, you learn every time you do something. I put it on me that we weren’t a little bit better, but that’s on me, so it is what it is.”
The team’s silver-medal-winning performance marked the best finish by a U.S. men’s hockey team in the history of the University Games.
“We came up here and we wanted to do something special,” Taylor said. “We wanted to make some statements for our group and show that we could compete at this level. Ending up with silver certainly shows that.
“For me being a North Country guy, I wanted to make sure we got to Lake Placid,” he added. “I wanted to make sure that we got to this game, and I certainly wanted to make sure that we would win it, but the Canadian team had something they wanted to make sure of, too, and that was winning it.”
While the game got out of hand rather quickly, the crowd, which nearly filled the 1980 Herb Brooks Arena, was loud and energetic through much of the contest. Chants of “USA, USA” and “Let’s go, Canada” were heard throughout the rink.
“I think everyone has seen ‘Miracle,'” Struthers said, referring to the 2004 film about the historic 1980 Olympic hockey game between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. “To have a crowd that loud, even when USA scored, it’s a testament to the crowd and their energy, all two weeks long. It was really special, and it made winning gold in front of a rink like that really exciting.”
Throughout these games, the medal-winning teams weren’t met with their national anthems after receiving their awards. Instead, they were treated to the FISU anthem. So, the Canadian players did the next best thing … they sang “O Canada” themselves.