Hey, if nothing else, USA Hockey finished the oft-criticized year 2016 on a high note.
In prepping for the bigger games in the 2017 World Juniors, the United States won all four of its games, never trailing on the way. Saturday was truly special, however, as the U.S. beat Canada in the traditional New Year’s Eve game by a score of 3-1.
To give you an idea of how rare that is, consider this: Canada won the last six games on NYE.
With that 4-0-0 mark and this win against the Canadians, the U.S. won Group B.
Minnesota Wild prospect Jordan Greenway (50th pick of 2015, pictured) stood out among the pack, scoring a goal and two assists. Ryan Lindgren (49th pick in 2016 by the Boston Bruins) had a great game in his own right, being named the player of the game for the United States.
It’s fitting that a defenseman was named the MVP of the contest, as this was a very tight game. Despite building a 2-0 lead about six minutes into the game, the U.S. limited Canada to a manageable 26 shots on goal. Neither team scored a goal in the third period, either, so it was a suffocating contest.
Of course, a team as talented as Canada did generate its fair share of chances.
Overall, it was a heck of a performance by the U.S. that featured some great moments for Wild prospects, although Luke Kunin (15th pick by Minnesota in 2016) was ejected for this hit:
Still, the United States managed to lock things down and avoid making that extra mistake that plagued them in previous New Year’s Eve matches against Canada.
Now they need to carry on that strong effort to the even bigger games as the tournament gears up.