MINSK, Belarus - In a fast-paced, back-and-forth contest filled with dramatic momentum swings, Johnny Gaudreau stole the show in Team USA’s 5-4 win over Germany.
The immensely skilled and highly crafty 20-year old forward from Carneys Point, N.J., scored a scintillating, highlight-reel goal, while adding three slick assists. Gaudreau’s four-point effort propelled the U.S. to a victory that they needed to ensure a higher seed in Thursday’s quarterfinal.
The five-foot-eight Gaudreau – who made his NHL debut on April 18, scoring on his first shot for the Calgary Flames – was a magician with the puck.
“He really sees the ice well; he’s really deadly on this big ice with time and space,” said U.S. captain Justin Abdelkader, who scored twice off Gaudreau assists, the second goal in the third period being the game winner. “It’s a big tournament for him with training camp next season (with Calgary) and I’ve seen him get better with more confidence.”
“It was nice to help the team out offensively,” Gaudreau said of his four-point afternoon. “I have a lot of great linemates, playing with older guys like (Tim) Stapleton (31) and Abdelkader (27), and they’ve definitely been helping me out here down the stretch.”
Gaudreau swiftly cut around multiple German defenders, adding a sleek toe-drag move, before roofing a shot past the goalie that gave the U.S. a 4-3 lead early in the third period. No. 53 and company raised their arms in celebration, but because the puck ricocheted so quickly back onto the ice play continued. After a stoppage and video review more than 90 seconds later, Gaudreau was finally credited with the crucial power-play tally.
“I was trying to make a pass backdoor first and I saw they were holding the middle, so I brought it in, made a little move and got a good shot off,” said Gaudreau about the goal. “It was a good screen by Abby (Abdelkader).”
With ten points (2-8), Gaudreau leads Team USA (4-1-0-2; W-OTW-OTL-L) in scoring with the seven-game world championship preliminary round now in the books.
“This is my first opportunity to work firsthand with Johnny and he’s a very, very impressive talent for the United States,” said U.S. head coach Peter Laviolette of Gaudreau. “Not just what you see on the ice, but he’s a terrific person off the ice. On the ice, he displays a tremendous amount of talent with his offensive skills.
“He’s a very smart player and battles and competes very hard for his size. It’s been my pleasure to get to work with a guy like that,” Laviolette said.
Gaudreau – the 2014 winner of the Hobey Baker Award starring for Boston College – continues to prosper on the international scene. Last year, Gaudreau led all scorers with seven goals as the U.S. claimed gold at the IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia.
“He’s one of those guys you don’t like playing against as a defenseman,” said Seth Jones of his 2013 U.S. National Junior Team colleague. “His feet are quick and he can turn you inside out. He played great for us tonight.”
Over three seasons at Boston College, Gaudreau accumulated numerous honors and helped the Eagles to an NCAA title during his freshman year.
“He did it all year at school, and I expect nothing less from him here,” said Gaudreau’s Boston College linemate Kevin Hayes, who at times, has been paired with him in Minsk. “He’s one of the best players in the country and he’s just being Johnny doing ‘Johnny things.’ Everyone thinks he’s really small, but he uses it to his advantage. No one really hits him and he spins off guys like I’ve never seen.”
As seen at Minsk Arena on Tuesday, Gaudreau is elevating his game – now leading all scorers at the tournament in assists with eight – and his offensive firepower and dynamic playmaking are providing a timely boost to a youthful U.S. squad as elimination round play begins.
Regarding playing in Minsk and having the chance to win a second world championship medal in two seasons as a member of Team USA, Gaudreau said: “I’m just really enjoying my time here over the past week-and-a-half. I’m excited and it should be fun”
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HELSINKI, Finland - Kyle Palmieri (Smithtown, N.Y./Anaheim Ducks/University of Notre Dame) and Bobby Ryan (Cherry Hill, N.J./Anaheim Ducks) each scored for Team USA, but Finland's Jesse Jonesuu tallied the game-winning goal with nine seconds remaining in regulation, as the U.S. Men's National Team fell to Finland, 3-2, in the quarterfinals of the 2012 International Ice Hockey Federation Men's World Championship at Hartwall Arena.
Team USA won six of its eight games in the tournament and officially finished with a record of 4-2-0-2 (W-OTW-OTL-L). The U.S. will finish sixth in the final standings if Sweden beats the Czech Republic in the final quarterfinal game tonight in Stockholm or seventh if the Czech Republic wins.
"We knew it would be a tough game," saidScott Gordon, head coach of Team USA. "We battled and certainly had our chances, but tonight they were just a little bit better than us. In the end, I liked our group and thought they represented our country extremely well."
After a scoreless first period, Finland opened the scoring at 13:27 of the second period. But the U.S. responded 21 seconds later when Jeff Petry (Ann Arbor, Mich./Edmonton Oilers/Michigan State University) found Palmieri streaking through the slot. Palmieri redirected the pass into the back of the net to tie the game and send the teams into the second intermission tied 1-1.
Ryan put home a rebound of a Justin Faulk (South St. Paul, Minn./Carolina Hurricanes/University of Minnesota Duluth) shot from the point to stake the U.S. to a 2-1 lead just 1:39 into the third period. The U.S. maintained its lead until Mikko Koivu had a puck glance off his skate and past Jimmy Howard (Syracuse, N.Y./Detroit Red Wings/University of Maine) with 6:58 left in regulation to tie the game. Joensuu recorded his second goal of the game from the side of the net with nine seconds remaining to give Finland the victory.
Howard, who was named Team USA's Player of the Game, made 28 saves, while Petri Vehanen had 24 stops for Finland.
NOTES: Team USA's Best Three Players of the Tournament were Jimmy Howard, Paul Stastny and Justin Faulk ... Justin Faulk led all Team USA defensemen with eight points (4-4) in the tournament. He also paced the team with a plus-nine rating ... Team USA didn't have a power-play opportunity on the night, while Finland went 0-for-1 with the man advantage ... Max Pacioretty's 12 points (2-10) were the most points of any U.S. player in the IIHF Men's World Championship since at least 1975 ... Defenseman Jack Johnsonwas the captain of Team USA. The alternate captains were forwards Jim Slater and Nate Thompson ... Scott Gordon was the head coach of the 2012 U.S. Men's National Team. Greg Cronin and David Quinn served as assistant coaches ... The 2012 U.S. Men’s National Team was under the direction of the U.S. Men’s National Team Advisory Group, led by Jim Johannson, assistant executive director of hockey operations for USA Hockey. Other members include NHL general managers Stan Bowman (Chicago), Brian Burke (Toronto), Paul Holmgren (Philadelphia), Dean Lombardi (Los Angeles), David Poile (Nashville), Ray Shero (Pittsburgh) and Dale Tallon (Florida) and Pittsburgh Penguins pro scout Don Waddell ... USA Hockey's international council, chaired by Tony Rossi, vice president of USA Hockey, has oversight responsibilities for all U.S. national teams ... NBC Sports televised all Team USA games in the 2012 IIHF Men's World Championship.
Scoring By Period
USA 0- 1- 1- 2
FIN 0- 1- 2- 3
First Period – Scoring: None. Penalties: None.
Second Period – Scoring: 1, FIN, Joensuu (Pihlstrom, Kukkonen), 13:27; 2, USA, Palmieri (Petry, Crabb), 13:48. Penalties: USA, Pacioretty (hooking), 7:35.
Third Period – Scoring: 3, USA, Ryan (Faulk, Smith), 1:39; FIN, Koivu (Jokinen, Filppula), 13:02; 5, FIN, Joensuu (Kontiola), 19:51. Penalties: None.
Shots by Period 1 2 3 Total
USA 10 9 7 26
FIN 7 10 14 31
Goaltenders (SH/SV) 1 2 3 Total
USA, Howard, 59:49 7/7 10/9 14/12 31/28
FIN, Vehanen, 60:00 10/10 9/8 7/6 26/24
Power Play: USA 0-0; FIN 0-1
Penalties: USA 1-2; FIN 0-0