Wednesday, April 21, 2010

USA! USA! USA! aka Campbell posts ANOTHER shutout--USA back in U-18 final

Well, what more can you say about goaltender Jack Campbell and Team USA's stingy defense?

The Americans cruised to a 5-0 victory over Finland today in the Under-18 semifinal game, with Campbell facing just 14 shots against one of the tournament's best offenses.

It was the third consecutive whitewash for Campbell, who blanked Canada 5-0 last Friday (30 saves), then the Czech Republic 6-0 on Tuesday (11 saves) in the quarterfinal round. USA beat Belarus 7-1 to close out the round robin on Sunday, but Andy Iles was in net for that one (and Iles is a pretty decent goalie in his own right-- small, but quick and combative the way Mike Vernon and Andy Moog were back in the day), so that means that in his last four starts Campbell has given up just one Switzerland scored at 11:58 of the first period a week ago. To recap, that makes it 11 full periods that Campbell has played without giving up a single goal.

Nick Shore (brother of last year draftee Drew Shore and eligible in '11) tallied twice against Finland, while Adam Clendening, Matt Nieto and Jarred Tinordi also scored.

I didn't see the game, but in allowing just 14 shots, the USA defense obviously got the job done again. Still, Campbell has been a beast. The shutout will push him up around a .970 save percentage for the tourney, having gone 4-1 with three shutouts since losing the opening game to Sweden by a 4-2 score.

Now, by virtue of Sweden's 3-1 win over Russia today, that means we'll get a rematch for the gold medal on Friday.

If USA can overcome Sweden's speed and skill ('11 superstud blueliner Adam Larsson is on the Tri-Kronor and scored today), then they'll have back-to-back Under-18 titles for the second time in USA Hockey history (2005-06).

What's that loud WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOSH sound you're hearing?

Why, that's Campbell's draft stock rocketing to the heavens. If he can pull off a big game between the pipes on Friday, he'll have made the kind of statement no other 18-year-old goalie going into the NHL draft has ever done against the best young competition on the planet.

That the Windsor Spitfires (on life support after winning Game 4 against Kitchener to make the series 3-1) are getting Campbell and Tom Kuehnhackl next year just doesn't seem fair.

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