The United States were not supposed to be in this game. After an 8-3 drubbing of the Russians in the quarterfinal the United States were favorites over a Switzerland squad that despite having big wins in the tournament, were still expected to lose their magic eventually and the US were poised to be the team to do it. That didn’t happen as Reto Berra’s shutout performance helped Switzerland take a 3-0 win and force the Americans into the medal round.
Their opponents, Finland had to deal with an equally disappointing 3-0 semifinal defeat as the co-hosts of the tournament lost to their rivals from Sweden as the return of the Sedin twins was too much to handle. With two very deserving and proud teams playing in the bronze medal game we could expect a tight game and no one was disappointed as the Finnish team mounted a comeback off the heroics of Lauri Korpikoski against the Americans leading to overtime and a shootout.
Team USA got the fast start as Craig Smith scored 58 seconds into the game continuing the hot knockout round play of his before Paul Stasny made it 2-0 late in the first to give the Americans the edge and the confidence that they would be able to hold on to win bronze. A scoreless second period gave the US even more confidence as John Gibson continued to deny the Finnish attack for the first 40 minutes.
In the third the wheels fell apart for the United States as Lauri Korpikoski got a deflection in front of the net to beat Gibson and give Finland life as they had 11 minutes left to find a game tying goal. Korpikoski again took advantage in front of the net, driving home a shot in front of Gibson’s crease after a hard drive to the net from Mikael Granlund to send the game into overtime and eventually the shootout as the 4 on 4 overtime solved little.
In the shootout Granlund missed an attempt at the “Peter Forsberg” shootout move by just inches after fooling Gibson but not being able to sneak in the reach around. The miss on the flashy attempt allowed Alex Galchenyuk to put home the winner and give the Americans the bronze medal. While bronze was not what the Americans were hoping for they can take this tournament as a positive step heading into the Olympics as the US fielded an extremely strong group of young talent that shows the bright future of their program.
John Gibson and Alex Galchenyuk are the core of that young group as both featured prominently on the United States gold medal winning World Junior team and the bronze medal win in Finland/Sweden. Both show the bright future of the US Hockey program, specifically Gibson who is more and more looking like he might be the next elite NHL goaltending talent if things continue to pan out for the youngster.
Post game interviews: