I’m sad, dear reader that’s probably either my mom/dad or a Facebook friend of mine. I’m particularly sad. An emotional trainwreck, even. Having watched Star Wars III for the first time in years, my slightly more developed semi-adult mind can’t fully grasp the magnitude of the sick sh*t Anakin Skywalker managed to pull in his marauding run throughout Coruscant. THERE’S STILL SOME GOOD IN YOU, ANNIE. I REFUSE TO CALL YOU VADER.
You know what was actually pretty sick though, in that good “bruh, that was SICK” kind of way? At some point during a day in which I nearly snapped my tibia/fibula dangling from a rope swing somewhere in High Springs, Florida, Team USA clinched a semblance of redemption, thumping the Czech Republic three-nil en route to claiming third place at the 2015 IIHF World Championships. Although big tallies from Nick Bonino, Trevor Lewis and Charlie Coyle gave the Americans an insurmountable lead, it was Connor Hellebuyck, goaltender extraordinaire, who once again stole the spotlight, stonewalling the Jaromir Jagr-led Czech attack for a massive 39-save shut-out, his second such effort of the tournament.
Rebounding nicely from a 4-0 shelling at the hands of the Russians, the Americans jumped on the board first, springing ahead to a one-goal lead early in the first period. Taking a cross-ice pass from Charlie Coyle, Brock Nelson’s initial attempt from the slot was spurned by Winnipeg Jets‘ incumbent starter Ondrej Pavelec, who managed to deflect Nelson’s second-effort backhand out into the slot. Falling to an unchecked Bonino, however, the rebound soon found its way into the net, past a helpless Pavelec and good for the 6’1″ forward’s second goal of the tournament. The Yanks, though, weren’t done yet; Jack Eichel, slippery on the puck, curled away from his mark along the sideboards, creating enough space to whip a shot-pass just outside of the crease, where Trevor Lewis could smack the saucer past the Czech netminder for the second American goal of the contest with less than two minutes to go until the buzzer.
Killing off a Nick Bonino high-sticking double-minor, the resilient Americans withstood a barrage of Czech fire in the second, giving up eight shots in differential to the swarming hometown squad. With a posted Czech effort’s metallic ring still echoing around the O2 Arena, the Minnesota Wild‘s Coyle set up a lovely give-and-go with Bonino, dishing the puck to the Vancouver Canuck before activating from the blue-line and streaking into the slot. Receiving the return feed, Coyle hammered home his third of the tournament, extending the American lead to three.
Though scoreless, the third frame offered much of the same for both squads, a surging Czech contingent kept at bay by the superhuman effort of Jets understudy Connor Hellebuyck; in the face of three penalty kills and a 16-shot endeavor from the opposition, the American keeper stood on his head, preserving his shutout and clinching the victory for a team that was outshot 39-16 on the night. Closing out his tournament with his strongest effort yet, the prolific native of Michigan finishes as the competition’s leader in both Save Percentage and Goals Against Average, making a strong case to potentially usurp Pavelec as the Jets’ number-one option in net come next season.
Well, ladies and gentlemen, that just about wraps it up for my meh-tier coverage of this tournament. As always, stay in milk. Drink your drugs. Don’t do school. But not really. Let’s all go to sleep, shall we?