It took 18 years, but the United States finally ushered in the new year with a win against its perennial rivals.
Squaring off against Canada on New Years Eve, Team USA leaned heavily on its special teams units en route to a surprising 3-1 victory.
The Americans’ top scorers were active early, and quickly found twine in the first period. Just 4:31 into the game, Boston University teammates Clayton Keller and Jordan Greenway combined on the power play to feed Boston College rival Colin White for his team-leading fourth goal of the tournament.
Less than two minutes later, a trio of Boston University teammates would strike again. With Canadian defenseman Phillipe Myers serving a minor for kneeing, rearguard Charlie McAvoy found Keller with a stretch pass, who then slid the puck over to Greenway. Hauling in the feed at the side of the net, the 6-foot-5 Greenway tucked the puck between the legs of goalie Connor Ingram, registering his fourth point in as many games.
But for all the power play’s success, the American penalty kill proved key.
“The penalty killing was the story of the game for us,” U.S. coach Bob Motzko said in a release. “We weren’t so good the last two games, and we made some changes, and tonight the killers were great.”
The Americans stymied the top-ranked Canadian power play on six separate occasions. The lone blemish came on an extended opportunity — McAvoy took a tripping penalty 3:12 into a five-minute Canadian power play, and defenseman Thomas Chabot solved goalie Joseph Woll on the ensuing two-man advantage.
CHL forward Jeremy Bracco restored Team USA’s two-goal advantage soon after, and the Americans saw home their biggest win of the tournament.
Following the victory, the Americans clinched sole possession of Group B’s top seed, booking their place to the knockout rounds. A quarterfinal tilt against fourth-seeded Switzerland awaits them at the Air Canada Centre on Monday.