In a remarkable turnaround after one-goal losses in the preliminary round to Canada and Russia, the United States reeled off four consecutive victories and capped it off with a 3-1 win over defending champion Sweden today to win the gold medal at the World Under-20 Championship in Ufa, Russia.
The gold is the Americans' second since 2010 and third in history.
Just a tremendous job by coach Phil Housley (South St. Paul, Stillwater High), who juggled the lineup around, found the magic formula and helped this team jell in wins over Slovakia, Czech Republic, Canada and Sweden.
"They inspired a nation today," Housley told NHL Network after the game. "We're bringing home the gold, guys!"
Housley's group continued to grow game by game.
Congrats also to Minnesotans Mike Reilly (Chanhassen, Gophers) and Mario Lucia (Wayzata, Notre Dame) and Housley's staff, which included Grant Potulny (Gophers assistant) and Mark Osiecki (Ohio State).
(You can read quotes from Reilly, Lucia and Potulny from a few nights ago on the previous blog).
University of North Dakota redshirt freshman Rocci Grimaldi was the offensive whiz today, scoring two goals, including the winner. This came after Grimaldi was relegated as the 13th forward four games ago.
"He played unbelievable these last three games," Housley told NHL Network. "My hat goes off to him. He took [the 13th forward slot] the right way."
The world junior All-Star team was selected as John Gibson (USA) in goal, Jacob Trouba (USA) and Jake McCabe (USA) on the blue line and Ryan-Nugent Hopkins (Canada), Johnny Gaudreau (USA) and Filip Forsberg (Sweden) at forward.
Rock-solid Gibson was named tournament MVP and top goalie. Trouba was top defenseman and Nugent-Hopkins top forward.
I will be on KFAN at 10:35 a.m. to talk world juniors, Gophers and NHL lockout (mediation today after 12 hours yesterday, 5 p.m. CT deadline for NHLPA disclaimer of interest vote to be concluded).