It all comes down to this: one period of hockey in a winner-take-all scenario between Team USA and Canada, with the two deadlocked in a 3-3 game after 40 minutes.
USA fell behind early on a goal by Luke Adam, nicely set up by Bruins prospect Jordan Caron who gained the zone along the right wall and threw the puck into the middle of the ice on Adam's stick for a shot that eluded American starter Mike Lee.
The Americans came back, with Boxford's own Chris Kreider scoring his team-leading sixth goal of the tourney on a high shot that went over Jake Allen's glove and hit the post before bouncing in.
Jordan Schroeder put his team up, 2-1 with a killer wrister on a nice feed from Ryan Bourque.
But, Canada evened the score to end the 1st period from Calgary prospect Greg Nemisz.
The second started out with a bang, with defenseman John Carlson using that howitzer shot of his to put USA up 3-2 just 1:04 into it, his third of the tourney and a power play marker.
The lead wouldn't hold.
2010 top-pick favorite Taylor Hall put a shot on net that bounced up and over Lee, ending up over the line for his sixth. Much like John Tavares last year, Hall is making an even bigger name for himself and solidifying his draft ascendancy.
The 3-3 score was enough for Dean Blais to make a significant move, pulling Lee (after allowing 3 goals on 7 shots) and inserting Jack Campbell, who was in net for USA's only loss of the tourney, a 5-4 shootout loss to Canada on New Year's Eve.
Campbell played well in relief for the rest of the period, looking calm and poised.
So, here we are: 20 minutes to play. Let the best team win.
UPDATE: USA kills the first penalty of the period, a delay of game call. Jerry D'Amigo SCORES! 4-3, USA! Takes the pass from Derek Stepan on the break and roofs it stickside over Allen. The character clutch forward's 6th of the tourney to tie Kreider for the team lead.
UPDATE: Stepan SCORES!!! D'Amigo with a steal in the neutral zone- flips it in on Allen, who mishandles the pop fly with the glove. Stepan swoops in, pulls it to the backhand and deposits it in the open side. 5-3, USA.
Two goal lead with a little under 14 minutes left. Deja vu all over again? Can the lead hold? Biggest 13 and change of these kids' lives right here.
Allen out, Martin Jones in.
UPDATE: A little more than 10 minutes left. USA keeping the shifts short, but the Canadians are going to throw everything but the kitchen sink at them. Get ready for a wild ride, folks!
UPDATE: 5 minutes left- big save by Campbell to preserve the two-spot.
UPDATE: Canada on PP...uh-oh.
UPDATE: There it is...Jordan Eberle. PPG on the one-timer after USA had a chance to clear the puck. Schroeder couldn't get it out and he was wide-open for his seventh goal of the tourney. with 2:30 left.
UPDATE: Eberle TIES it! Yes, HIM again. 5-5 USA looks gassed and like the other game...they just stopped skating after Palmieri's bad penalty.
Looks like they'll need a miracle now. 1 minute left. Here come the CAAAAAAMPBELL chants. Give him credit- he's seen 31 shots and stopped 29. Unfortunately, those two late ones really hurt.
UPDATE: End of regulation. 5-5. Resurface the ice and they go to 20 minutes of sudden death.
I'm not going to complain about the penalty...Palmieri made little effort to move out of the way. But...Ryan Ellis hit him into the goalie. With 4 minutes left. And you call that. Really? REALLY? Well, looks like that's the way the cookie crumbles. Americans could have killed it...should have. And still couldn't stop Eberle.
Well, I lied- it wasn't 20 minutes to gold. We have a few more ticks on the clock before this one's settled.
UPDATE: Start of OT...let's go. Next goal wins.
UPDATE: Both teams tentative...Ryan Bourque with a shot and save by Jones.
UPDATE: CARLSON SCOOOOOORRRESSSSS!!!!!!
UPDATE; Dean Blais: "It was a little tough there when it was the same scenario as New Year's Eve."
"He's (Carlson's) been real good the last four games. He told me he was really looking forward to playing Canada, and that he'd be ready and so this is a bonus for him."
UPDATE: 6-5 USA...only the second American team to win gold at the World U-20. Congratulations boys.
More on this tremendous win tomorrow. Plus, I'll follow up with individual scouting reports on key 2010 draft eligibles.
Carlson's wrist shot came from the right circle and beat Jones on the blocker side after Campbell had
Campbell: "This is the best group of guys I've ever played with." 32 saves from the kid who lost on New Year's Eve but won redemption and silenced a nation tonight.
Classy move by the Canadian fans in Saskatoon to stand, applaud and hold the boos. That's what this sport is all about...and what is separates hockey fans from the hooliganism you see in other sports.
I love Canada...always have. But tonight belongs to the USA.