The win was sweet retribution for Canada, who lost by a 5-1 count earlier in the tournament to the U.S., their worst loss ever at the Worlds to their rivals.
"We love playing the U.S.," said Canadian forward Nick Paul. "Obviously the first game wasn't the outcome we wanted but that put a little fire in our belly. Today was a big came and we wanted to come prepared. We've come together as a team and playing for one another, and I think that showed tonight."
"When we played the U.S. that first time we had been together only a little bit but over the past few games we've made strides as a team and found some chemistry," Danforth added. "I think the last couple of games we've played a full 60 minutes. Even when the times are tough our leaders are making sure we're staying in the right mindset."
"This is a tough one," admitted U.S. captain Brian Boyle. "It’s been a long couple weeks, and we wanted this one, but we didn’t execute. We have to understand that we can be upset about this, but we have to regroup. We've been here too long, sacrificed too much. Guys are playing through a lot. We’ve got injuries. Guys have gone down who aren’t able to play. A medal’s a huge thing, so we need to make sure we’re ready."
The game, officiated by an all-North American crew, featured only one minor penalty the entire game, that to American Brian Boyle in the second that didn't result in a goal.
"It's a bit easier with North American officiating," Canadian Justin Danforth suggested. "I think they let us play hockey tonight, and as players that's all we want it to be. We'll take five-on-five hockey all night long. It worked for us."
The U.S. outshot Canada, 38-33, and both goalies were sensational. This marked the first game all tournament that the U.S. gave up more than two goals in a game, and the first time the opposition scored the opening goal.
Mangiapane is now a strong MVP candidate. He is tied for the goal-scoring lead with Liam Kirk (7), and linemate Connor Brown, with two assists, is now the leading scorer with 13 points.
"It’s been a crazy tournament," Mangiapane explained. "We started 0-and-3 as a team. Now we’re playing our best hockey; we’re riding that momentum. Got one more game to go. Great how we’re playing. Great how we’re coming back and just playing the right way. It’s awesome to see from the group, but we gotta keep going.
It’s crazy how we've competed. We’ve been the underdogs every single game, and we just keep proving people wrong. It’s great to see from the guys, all the character, the battle levels. But we’re not done. We’ve got one more game to take care of business here."
The Americans are down after the loss, but they have to re-group and get ready to play for bronze. Today just wasn't their day.
"Their intensity from the start was probably a little higher than ours," Boyle added. "I think we were probably in our own heads a little bit too much too early. I think we were trying to play a perfect game instead of playing hockey and playing hard. They took it to us for a little while and we couldn’t catch up."
That was just the start. Teams went end to end, not shy about creating – or, giving up – scoring chances. It seemed Canada was taking control, only to have the Americans get a great scoring chance of their own. Connor Brown had a close-in chance, but moments later Ryan Donato slid a shot off the post for the U.S.
The Americans tied the game at 17:17 when a point shot by Wolanin was deftly tipped in front by Colin Blackwell. That got the U.S. going, and they had sustained pressure in the Canadian end for the rest of the penalty-free period.
Although the U.S. started the second as they ended the first, in control, it was Canada which took the lead again at 4:15 thanks to some good work from Mangiapane. He beat Blackwell to a puck behind the U.S. goal and got it out front, and in a mad scramble in Petersen’s crease after a shot by Brown, Mangiapane managed to poke the puck over the goal line.
Midway through Canada thought it had gone up by two goals on the game’s first and only power play, but a challenge by the U.S. confirmed the initial entry into the American zone was offside. No goal. Still 2-1.
Then, the Americans had a great chance to tie the game when Trevor Moore was all alone in front of Kuemper on a Canada turnover, but his deke and backhand was stopped by the quick glove of Kuemper to keep Canada in front.
Canada got off to a great start in the third thanks to Mangiapane. He took a long, bouncing pass from Connor Brown and skated in alone on Petersen, beating him with a nasty deke just 46 seconds into the third for a huge 3-1 lead.
The Americans continued to skate and were rewarded at 3:26. Kevin Rooney drove down the right side, and although Kuemper stopped his shot, Sasha Chmelevski followed up and put the rebound in to cut the deficit in half.
That was as close as they got. The Americans had trouble getting close to Kuemper late, and the Canadian defence did a masterful job of getting the puck out, or getting it deep, to keep their rivals at bay.
Danforth got an empty netter, his first of the tournament, with 23 seconds left.