The United States shocked heavily-favored Canada 5-1 Thursday in semifinal action at the 2013 World Junior Championships and thus will play in the Gold Medal Game on Saturday against either Sweden or Russia.
JT Miller, the Rangers top pick in the 2011 NHL Draft, once again played a major role in the United States' victory. Miller assisted on Jim Vesey's second-period goal which gave Team USA a 4-0 lead and on John Gaudreau's late third-period goal that closed out the 5-1 win. Miller finished a +3 in the game and won 75 percent of his faceoffs (9 of 12).
Entering the tournament Canada was a clear favorite, boasting a lineup that featured some players who might instead be playing in the NHL if not for the lockout, including the league's 2011 top overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Canada had won all four of their previous games at the 2013 World Juniors, including a 2-1 victory over the United States in the preliminary round last week.
However Team USA not only shut down Canada's offensive attack, it at times dominated play for long stretches. USA captain Jake McCabe set the tone by scoring twice in the first period---at 7:18 and again at 16:02---before Gaudreau made it 3-0 less than three minutes into the middle stanza with his forst of two goals in the game.
By the time Canada's TJ Rattie scored 4:03 into the third period, the United States had secured a four-goal advantage on Vesey's tally and was well on its way to an emphatic, and dramatic, upset victory. Team USA goaltender John Gibson stopped 33 of 34 shots, including all three from Nugent-Hopkins, who leads all tournament scorers with 11 points in five games.
With two goals on Thursday, Gaudreau now has a tournament-high seven, while having played in six games.
The United States has twice won Gold at the World Junior Championships---in 2004 and 2010, with Rangers prospects Chris Kreider and Ryan Bourque both having played on that '10 squad. Team USA won Silver once, back in 1997.
Share your thoughts below on Team USA's upset victory over Canada and what you think of their chances going for Gold Saturday, along with the play of JT Miller throughout the tourny.