U.S. wins gold; Sweden wins bronze
SASKATOON, Saskatchewan -- John Carlson scored in overtime to give the United States a 6-5 victory over Canada in the world junior hockey championship on Tuesday night.
Carlson beat goaltender Martin Jones on a 3-on-1 after U.S. goalie Jack Campbell made a save at the other end. It was the second goal of the game for Carlson, on loan to the U.S. team by his American Hockey League team in Hershey.
"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."
Carlson credited the rapport with his teammates for the win.
"You look at a guy like Jordan Schroeder. He's been here for three years and hasn't won it," Carlson said. "It's my first time. It's something I'll never forget. The camaraderie we have in the room kept us going."
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.
Canada was trying to win the tournament for a record sixth consecutive time. Tuesday's final was the first between the two countries since 2004, when the U.S. rallied in Helsinki, Finland, for its first gold medal in the tournament.
"It's unfortunate we didn't get to make history," Canadian forward Taylor Hall said.
Chris Kreider, Jerry D'Amigo, Schroeder and Stepan also scored for the U.S., who had underachieved in this tournament in recent years with bigger names and more first-round NHL draft picks in the lineup.
"We played Canadian hockey," coach Dean Blais said. "We played gritty. We learned from the best. It's not an accident you guys have won five straight gold medals."
The U.S. held a selection camp prior to this tournament for the first time instead of simply selecting 22 players for its team.
Canada has held selection camps for decades and the practice seemed to help the U.S. as it played a more cohesive team game in the tournament.
"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."
Luke Adam scored 2:40 into the game to give Canada a 1-0 lead, but Jordan Eberle had to score a pair of goals for Canada in the final three minutes to force overtime.
The Edmonton Oilers prospect was selected the tournament's most valuable player, but the honor 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 3-on-1 and obviously it was a great shot."
Greg Nemisz and Taylor Hall also scored for Canada in front of a sellout crowd of 15,171 at Credit Union Centre.
"Everyone's bummed out," Canada defenseman Ryan Ellis said. "We got so close and it didn't happen for us. But everyone's sticking together. We're a close team and we've got our heads up high.
"It's tough, especially coming back the way we did. We shot ourselves in the foot a bit [early on]."
Canadian goaltender Jake Allen was pulled after the Americans' fifth goal early in the third, replaced by Jones. Allen made 23 stops, and Jones had eight saves.
U.S. starter Mike Lee didn't fare much better, leaving early in the second after yielding three goals on seven shots. Campbell finished with 32 saves in relief.
Allen's sloppy play allowed the U.S. to take a 5-3 early in the third. The puck bobbled out in front of the Canadian goalie as he tried to glove it. Stepan caught Canada's defense flat-footed and raced in to bang the puck in.
The 2011 world junior hockey championship will be held in Buffalo, N.Y., before returning to Canada in 2012.