The United States and Canada packed more than 44,000 people into the Buffalo Bills’ New Era Field on Friday for a World Juniors showdown, and with snow falling, it only makes sense that a flurry turned the game.
Canada generated a 3-1 lead, but Brady Tkachuk and the U.S. team rallied back for an eventual 4-3 shootout win. The 3-2 and 3-3 goals happened within a minute of each other.
More than a few people compared the scene to the first Winter Classic between the Penguins and Sabres, which was also in Buffalo. Not a bad warm-up for the upcoming 2018 Winter Classic, eh?
NHL legacies ended up factoring into this one, as both Tkachuk and Kieffer Bellows scored during regulation and in the shootout. Casey Mittelstadt was also a considerable factor, collecting an assist on all three of America’s goals. (Mittelstadt was named the player of the game on the U.S. side, while goalie Carter Hart was Canada’s.)
Tkachuk & Co. justified people traveling in treacherous conditions, and plenty of people had fun with the blustery scene.
Brady is described by some as the more explosively talented Tkachuk, which is saying something because Matthew is already a very effective NHL player. If moments like these are any indication, he might have at least some of his brother’s knack for agitating:
This was a helpful win for the U.S., with the preliminary round of play concluding with a Dec. 31 match against Finland. As TSN notes, the U.S. has gotten the better of Canada at the World Juniors lately:
The Americans have owned their northern neighbour of late – at least at World Juniors. Friday was Team USA’s fourth straight win over Team Canada in tournament play since 2015, including last year’s gold-medal game. Team Canada has missed nine consecutive shootout attempts against Team USA.
Maybe these two teams will meet again during a higher-stakes moment in the tournament? Either way, memories were forged at the first-ever outdoor game for the World Juniors, which set an attendance record.
Speaking of that first Winter Classic, recall it here:
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.