Canada has 48 hours to recover from a heartbreaking semifinal loss at the world under-18 hockey championship.
Kyle Osterberg scored 6:27 into the third period as the U.S. edged Canada 2-1 on Friday, giving the Americans a shot at their fourth straight gold. It left Canada facing a Sunday matchup with Finland for bronze.
“We came in here to win gold and we just found out 20 minutes ago that that’s not going to happen,” said Canadian coach Jesse Wallin. “So we’re still coming to terms with that. But what I know is that it’s our last game as a group, we have one more game to play, and we damn well better show up and play it the right away.”
Canada will be trying to claim its first medal at the event since winning gold in 2008.
The team came up just a bit short against the heavily favoured Americans. Tied 1-1 heading into the third period, Osterberg picked up the puck after teammate Seth Jones shot wide and beat Canadian goalie Matt Murray with a wraparound.
“If we finished our check in the neutral zone there then their defenceman wouldn’t get an opportunity to take the puck into the zone,” said Wallin. “It’s those little details that are the difference, especially in tight games.”
J.T. Compher also scored while goaltender Collin Olson stopped 21 shots for the Americans.
Gemel Smith replied for Canada. Murray finished with 25 saves. Kelowna Rockets player Damon Severson had an assist on the lone Canadian goal.
The Canadian team was playing for the second time in as many days and couldn’t match the intensity of its opponent.
“We didn’t have that spark that we needed,” said Wallin. “We didn’t have anybody really grab the bull by the horns and lead the way tonight.”
The next game could be even tougher.
Not only did Finland come out on top when they faced each other in the round robin, but Canadian teams traditionally struggle to get amped up for bronze-medal games. There was no hiding the disappointment after the loss to the U.S.
“I didn’t say a whole lot,” said Wallin. “There wasn’t a whole lot to say. We came here to win a gold medal and we fell short of that here tonight. We’ve got to come to terms with that.”