After it was over, after they had shocked the hockey world Tuesday night, Team USA’s players — arms locked around each other as they became a Band of Brothers for the rest of their lives — gleefully and proudly sang the national anthem during the awards ceremony in Edmonton.
Yes, they were badly off key, but no one cared.
They were too busy enjoying their epic 2-0 win over heavily favored Canada to capture the IIHF World Junior title at Rogers Place.
Goalie Spencer Knight (34 saves) was brilliant, and Flyers prospects Cam York, the team’s captain, and Bobby Orr Brink were important contributors as the Americans won their first WJC since 2017.
“This is the best birthday present I could ever ask for,” York, who turned 20 Tuesday, told reporters after the win. “I love those guys to death.”
“We played such a great team game,” said Trevor Zegras, an Anaheim Ducks prospect who had seven goals and 18 points while being named the tournament MVP. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet.”
Playing confidently from the start, Team USA got goals from Alex Turcotte (first period) and Zegras (early in the second period), and received flawless goaltending from Knight as they jolted defending champion Canada, which had been 6-0 in the tournament and had outscored its opponents, 41-4, going into the final.
“They played terrific and played for each other,” USA coach Nate Leaman said. “Those are the things that make you proud as a coach.”
Leaman directed USA past a Canada team that had 19 players who were first-round NHL draft picks.
Turcotte’s goal was the first five-on-five tally allowed by Canada in the tournament — and the first time it had trailed at any point in the tourney.
The Americans, who finished a disappointing sixth last year, dropped a 5-3 decision to Russia in their first game in this tourney, but they kept improving and they won the last six games to capture their fifth WJC.
York, who grew up in southern California, and Minnesota native Brink had a strong tournament. York played 20 minutes, 13 seconds and was solid Tuesday, while Brink, a winger, played 15:18 and was a fearless defender who threw his body in front of shots.
In the seven tournament games, Brink had six points (two goals, four assists) and a plus-6 rating. York had six points (one goals, four assists) and a plus-4 rating.
York, a mobile defenseman, was selected in the first round (14th overall) of the 2019 draft. In that same draft, Brink was chosen in the second round (34th overall). York is a sophomore at Michigan, while Brink is a sophomore at the University of Denver.
“It wasn’t easy. We lost two key centers to COVID [before the tourney],” York said. “ … It wasn’t pretty tonight, but we got it done.”