'Sky's the limit' for Bruins' Hamilton
Most of the hype and zest leading up to Canada vs. USA at the 2012 U-20 World Jr. Championships was gone by the time the New Year's Eve match took place. The Americans, who were considered a medal contender and by many a good chance for gold, were downed by Finland 4-1. More surprisingly, they lost 5-2 to the Czech Republic leading up to the final game of the preliminary round.
With the U.S.'s hope for a medal gone before the game started, many wondered how this team loaded with NHL prospects would respond to playing Canada, which was playing on home soil and undefeated coming into the game. With eight NHL first-round picks on the U.S. roster and 12 on the Canada roster, a lot of pride and bragging rights were on the line. The U.S. players vowed before the game they would play this "Border Battle" like it was a championship.
With a sellout crowd of insane Canadian fans, Canada was just too much for the Americans and the Border Battle became a multitude of mini battles all over the ice with Canada winning most of them. Frustration levels were high on the U.S. bench and an early retaliatory penalty resulted in a power-play goal. After being down 3-0 for most of the game, the American kids deserve a lot of credit for hanging in there and making a game of it -- the final score was 3-2.
But the best thing about this event is it gives us a great chance to evaluate the performances of some of the best prospects while they are playing on the biggest of world stages. Here's a scouting report on some of the top prospects:
G Scott Wedgewood, Plymouth, OHL (New Jersey Devils 2010/3rd round): Eight shots in the first period and had to make only one good save. Very calm and collected and showed excellent reflexes on several shots that changed direction. Twelve shots in the second and third periods each, and he was much more active as the game progressed. Wedgewood helped Canada hold off a late charge from Team USA.
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