WJC 2013: U.S.- Canada has produced recent classics

Saturday, 12.29.2012 / 8:30 PM
By Rob Mixer - BlueJackets.com / CBJ Today
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WJC 2013: U.S.- Canada has produced recent classics

We're less than eight hours away from rekindling one of the greatest rivalries in international hockey: the United States versus Canada.

I remember years ago when this matchup was one (as an American) you would look at with fear and just hope that it was over quickly. But with a USA Hockey resurgence and new waves of star players being developed in the U.S., there's a brand new attitude to it.

The next chapter gets under way at 4:30 a.m. ET and will air live on the NHL Network, and there's a lot at stake. Team USA needs a win to feel better about itself heading into the medal round, and Canada is battling it out with Russia to win the group.

Some of the best U.S. vs. Canada games in recent memory took place in the calendar year 2010, beginning with John Carlson's overtime, gold medal winner at the World Junior in Saskatoon.

To this day, that's still one of the greatest hockey games I've ever watched. The emotional ebbs and flows were more than peaks and valleys and watching the highlights gives me the chills almost three years later.

A couple of months after Team USA won gold at the World Junior, they nearly went 2-for-2 at the Olympic Games in Vancouver. Brian Burke and USA Hockey's management team put together a fast, competitive bunch that beat Canada in the preliminary round and met them once again with everything on the line.

And as we all remember, it was a Sidney Crosby goal in overtime that ended one of the all-time classics. It still stings, but we'll move along.

I exchanged some tweets tonight with Dave Starman, a junior/college hockey expert and CBS Sports analyst who called this game with the great JP Dellacamera (soccer fans will recognize his voice right away). Both of us agreed it was one of the best games we've seen, and not just because Team USA pulled off a stunner on Canadian soil.

This was such a highly-anticipated tournament with the home team boasting a star-studded lineup. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Brayden Schenn, Nazem Kadri, Alex Pietrangelo, and the list goes on. Canada was the heavy favorite and after absorbing a mighty punch from the U.S. (trailing 5-3 with three minutes to play), they got revved up.

There wasn't a better player in the tournament than Eberle. As you see in these highlights, he scored two clutch goals back-to-back in the third to send the game to overtime before Carlson sealed the deal on an odd-man rush.

A week before the gold medal game in Saskatoon, Team USA and Canada met in a preliminary round game that -- at the time -- was the best game of the tournament without question. The Americans fell behind early, but clawed back into the game late in the first period before pulling ahead 4-2 on a Danny Kristo early in the third period.

Credit Union Centre was quiet again, but the Canadians were far from finished. Eberle tipped in a Brandon MacMillan shot to make it 4-3, then Pietrangelo nearly blew the roof off the place with a shorthanded goal that tied the game.

The game went to a shootout, and as TSN's Gord Miller so aptly put it: Canada won a classic. Let's watch:

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