THE CANADIAN PRESS
SASKATOON — The United States beat Canada at its own game to win the 2010 world junior hockey championship and foil the host team’s bid to make history.
A smaller, younger, less experienced American team than in previous years, but one that had teamwork and trust in each other to complement its speed, edged Canada 6-5 in overtime Tuesday.
John Carlson ended Canada’s hopes of winning a record sixth straight gold medal in this tournament with a wrist shot at 4:21 of overtime, after the Canadians had scored twice late in the third period to tie it.
"We played Canadian hockey," said U.S. coach Dean Blais. "We played gritty.
"We learned from the best. It’s not an accident you guys have won five straight gold medals."
Carlson, on loan to the U.S. team by his American Hockey League team in Hershey, scored twice in the game.
"He’s one special player. Keep your eyes on him," U.S. captain Derek Stepan said of Carlson. "He’s going to be in the NHL for a long time."
The U.S. got some revenge for a 5-4 shootout loss against Canada on New Year’s Eve that gave the hosts a bye to the semifinals.
The Americans also led that game by two goals before allowing Canada to send it to overtime.
Tuesday’s final was the first between the two countries since 2004, when the U.S. came from behind to beat Canada in Helsinki, Finland, for the Americans’ first gold medal in the tournament.
Canada had won it every year after that until Tuesday.
"It’s unfortunate we didn’t get to make history," Canadian forward Taylor Hall said. "It’s unfortunate and not something we’re proud of."
New York Rangers prospect Chris Kreider, Vancouver Canucks draft pick Jordan Schroeder, Toronto Maple Leafs property Jerry D’Amigo and Stepan, also a Rangers draft pick, had the other goals for the U.S.
The Americans had underachieved in this tournament in recent years with bigger names and more first-round NHL draft picks in the lineup.
Tuesday’s win was the second international hockey victory in as many nights for the U.S. after its under-17 team beat Ontario 2-1 in the final of the World Under-17 Challenge.
The U.S. junior team held a selection camp prior to this tournament for the first time instead of following its usual habit of naming 22 players to its team.
Canada has held selection camps for decades and the practice seemed to help the U.S. as they played a cohesive team game in this tournament and had the nerve to pull out the most important win.
"I didn’t want a bunch of fancy Dans who wouldn’t play both ends and were cocky and arrogant and I didn’t have that team," Blais said. "We picked guys with good character and yeah, we got a few breaks, but win or lose, I think we had the right guys here."
Canada’s streak of five gold nearly ended during each of the last three tournaments, but they’ve managed to keep the run alive.
They nearly did it again with Jordan Eberle of the Regina Pats scoring twice in the final three minutes to tie the game and force a 20-minute overtime.
Luke Adam of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and Windsor Spitfires teammates Greg Nemisz and Hall also scored for Canada in front of a disappointed sellout crowd of 15,171 at Credit Union Centre.
Eberle was largely responsible for keeping Canada’s drive for five titles alive in Ottawa last year. He scored with five seconds left in the semifinal against Russia, and again in the shootout.
The Edmonton Oilers prospect was named the tournament’s most valuable player, but the honour felt hollow to him.
"It was almost tough going into the dressing room before overtime because we were on such a high and we wanted to stay out there and play," Eberle said. "Overtime, anything can happen. A bounce here and they get a three-on-one and obviously it was a great shot."
Both starting goaltenders had sub-par nights and were pulled at different points of the game.
Martin Jones of the Calgary Hitmen went in for Jake Allen of the Montreal Junior after the Americans’ fifth goal early in the third period. The U.S. scored when Allen bobbled the puck in front of him trying to glove it, which gave Stepan enough time to race in and bang it in.
Mike Lee didn’t last as long in the U.S. net. After giving up three goals on seven shots, 17-year-old Jack Campbell replaced him early in the second and was strong the rest of the way with 32 saves.
Canadian forward Brandon McMillan played the odd shifts on defence and Spokane defenceman Jared Cowen had a lot more ice time in the absence of Travis Hamonic of the Moose Jaw Warriors.
Hamonic suffered a shoulder injury late in Canada’s 6-1 semifinal win over Switzerland and was unable to dress for the championship.
"We missed Hamonic for sure," Canadian head coach Willie Desjardins said. "He was one of our key defencemen and certainly a guy we went to quite a bit."
Canada had 21 NHL draft picks, including 10 first-rounders, in a lineup with an average age of 19.4 years. The hosts were slightly taller and heavier on average than their opponent, who featured 15 draft picks (five first-rounders) and had an average age of 18.5.
Canada had to settle for matching its record of five straight titles set between 1993 and 1997.
Eberle, who passed John Tavares as Canada’s all-time leading goalscorer in the tournament with 14, was named the tournament’s top forward. St Louis Blues defenceman Alex Pietrangelo earned the same honour for defencemen.
Total attendance for the tournament in Regina and Saskatoon was about 300,000, which was short of the record of 453,282 set last year in Ottawa. Vancouver, which hosted games at GM Place and Pacific Coliseum in 2006, drew 374,353.
The 2011 world junior hockey championship will be held in Buffalo, N.Y., before returning to Canada in 2012, when it will be jointly hosted by Calgary and Edmonton.
Notes: Sweden hammered Switzerland 11-4 for the bronze medal Tuesday . . . Canada is 27-6-3 all-time versus the U.S. at the world junior hockey championship . . . Benjamin Conz of Switzlerand was named the tournament’s best goalie. Carlson and Stepan of the U.S. and Swiss forward Nino Niederreiter of the Portland Winter Hawks joined him on the all-star team . . . Austria and Latvia were relegated to the world ‘B’ junior championship.