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U.S. gets boost despite loss to Canada at world juniors

The Canadian Press

12/31/2011 11:45:09 PM

EDMONTON -- By throwing a scare into Canada on Saturday, the United States squad says it found something to build on as it limps into the relegation round of the world junior hockey championships.

The Americans fought back from a 3-0 deficit with two late goals in a 3-2 loss to Canada to finish the preliminary round at 1-3, out of the medal round.

The game was meaningless before it began, as Canada had already finished first in the five-team B pool with a perfect record while the Americans were fourth, ahead only of winless Denmark.

U.S. defenceman Jarred Tinordi said the standings were irrelevant.

"Everyone in the room was amped up for that game," said the six-foot-seven Tinordi, who plays defence for the London Knights of the OHL.

"We're still wearing the USA sweater, and that has a lot to do with it. We're playing for pride now.

"In the second two periods we really showed what our team was made of. Those were our two best periods of the whole tournament."

The Americans came alive late in the final frame when Charlie Coyle lifted a wrist shot over the shoulder of Canadian goaltender Scott Wedgewood. That was followed by a wraparound goal by captain Jason Zucker.

Zucker said they simply ran out of time.

"If we had a couple more minutes we might have had a couple more chances and maybe put one in, but they played solid throughout," said Zucker, a Minnesota Wild prospect.

"It was a little bit chippy, but that's the Canada-U.S. rivalry."

The tournament could only be described as disappointing for the team that won it all in at the world juniors in 2010.

After beating the Danes 11-3 in the opener, the Americans ran into hot goaltenders against Finland and the Czech Republic and lost despite outshooting their opponents by a wide margin.

Finland's Sami Aittokallio turned aside 38 shots in a 4-1 win while Petr Mrazek of the Czech Republic stopped 52 of 54 in a 5-2 win.

The loss to the Czechs marked the first time the U.S. team has lost back-to-back games at the world junior championship since 2009. It was also the first time it lost two preliminary round games since the 2007 tournament.

The Canadian fans did their best to make the Americans feel unwelcome. They cheered every U.S. opponent, booed the Americans mercilessly, and mockingly chanted the surname of U.S. goalie Jack Campbell.

Campbell said he heard it, but didn't mind at all.

"As weird as this may sound I'm so thankful the fans are this involved in hockey," said Campbell, a Dallas Stars draft pick.

"Obviously they weren't chanting my name to root for me, but it's a special thing I can tell my grandkids about: 20,000 people were screaming my name."

Forward J.T. Miller says he took the boos as a measure of respect.

"It's actually a pretty cool feeling. (It means) we have a pretty good reputation then, and it makes (the fans) a little worried."

Miller said the Americans will be ready for the relegation round, which determines which team is dropped from next year's world championship.

But he admitted it won't be the same.

"For the USA not going for a gold medal, it still kind of blows my mind," he said.

Notes: Three Americans led the team in scoring in the preliminary round. Coyle, a San Jose Sharks prospect, chalked up four goals and one assist. Bill Arnold, a Calgary Flames draft pick, registered two goals and three assists, while Zucker collected two goals and three assists.