Whitehall's Gibson leads Team USA past Canada, into gold medal game
By Rob Rossi
Published: Thursday, Jan. 3, 2013, 9:22 a.m.
Gold is within grasp of four Pittsburgh hockey prospects.
Team USA will face Sweden at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. NHL Network will broadcast the game live at 8 a.m. Saturday.
On the strength of 36 saves by Whitehall's John Gibson, the United States routed rival Canada, 5-1, in a semifinal Friday.
“The thing I tried to do was just play my game and not over think it,” Gibson said after stopping 15 of 16 third-period shots.
“It was a total team effort.”
Team USA forward and Upper St. Clair native Vince Trocheck said his goaltender was down playing a performance consistent with his dominant tournament. Gibson has surrendered eight goals while recording a .955 save percentage through six games. He turned aside 67 of 69 shots in two games against Canada – the tournament favorite with a top line of all NHL players led by 2011 first overall pick Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
“He is an unbelievable goalie, probably one of the best in the world for his age,” Trocheck said of Gibson. “He bailed us out so many times, and I know he can do that again in the next game.”
Sweden, the 2012 World Junior Champion, won a shootout against host country Russia, 3-2.
The Russians and Canadians will resume their heated historical rivalry in a bronze medal game Saturday at 4 a.m., also to be broadcast on NHL Network.
The Americans will shoot for a third goal to go with titles in 2004 and 2010. Team USA's last medal was a bronze in 2011.
In addition to Gibson and Trocheck, Team USA also features Coraopolis' J.T. Miller and Washington's Riley Barber.
Friends watching at home awoke early for the 4 a.m. start. They were rewarded with two assists from Miller and an assist each from Trocheck, Barber and even Miller.
“We probably don't have the biggest group of fans here in Russia,” Barber said. “There were a lot of Canada fans in the crowd. But when you look at all the texts we had waiting for us, and you see all the reaction from people back home on Twitter — yeah, we know we have support.”
Scott Harrington, a top Penguins defenseman prospect, was selected as Canada's top player for the semifinal loss.
Trocheck said the Americans were confident “we had the better team” than Canada, even though Team USA had lost a group stage game, 2-1.
Team USA has finished ahead of Canada in only four World Junior Championship tournaments, and the rivalry at the junior level is especially intense because so many American prospects spend formative years playing for teams in Canada.
“You could probably say we think they are cocky,” Barber said. “We respect those guys, but playing in Canada you see them on all the commercials. It gets to be a little much.
“You know coming into this tournament you have to beat Canada if you want to win it. That's the reality. We just did that, so now we have to settle down and focus on finishing this.”
Rob Rossi is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com or 412-380-5635.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Blackhawks’ Hossa injured in game versus Penguins
- NHL notebook: Canucks ship Luongo to Panthers
- Florida Panthers call up Upper St. Clair’s Trocheck
- NHL trade roundup: St. Louis heads to Rangers in Lightning’s deal for Callahan
- Ex-NHL player Moore frustrated $38 million lawsuit still in courts
- NHL notebook: Capitals sign Russian forward