Recap of the USA/Iceland Final of the Junior Goodwill Games

In their first meeting, Iceland crushingly defeated Team USA. This was due in large part to the hubris Team USA gained from securing victories over noted hockey powerhouses Team Italy and Team Trinidad and Tobago. Iceland put an end to that glory with a 12-1 decision. The USA managing to hang-on (let alone make it to the finals) after the such a defeat is a testament to both the spirit of team USA and the ineptitude of every other country competing in the Junior Goodwill Games. Team USA does manage to bounce back however, in large part because they meet a street hockey team that teaches them how to play hockey – a fortunate occurrence for any team playing at the international level.  Somewhere off-screen, the fathers of all of Team Canada’s players struggled to look their sons in the eyes for weeks after having seen them lose to a team that learned to play hockey during the tournament.

Nevertheless Team USA made it to the final where they were dominated through the first two periods, giving up four goals. Their luck isn’t all bad however – the referees go easy on them. Dwayne is given two minutes in the box after lassoing an opposing player – a move that absolutely constitutes assault with a weapon and should’ve resulted in an expulsion from the game and a lifetime ban from hockey.

In the third period, Team USA rallies after they unpatriotically change their jerseys. This should have lead to every single player getting a penalty for an equipment infraction but they catch another break somehow. Team USA/The Mighty Ducks(?) score 4 unanswered goals of their own, including one scored using the “knucklepuck” technique. The “knucklepuck” is when you stop and tilt the puck up on its side before shooting. It is likely named after the knuckleball – famously baseball’s most consistent and accurate pitch. Iceland proves themselves to be most sportsmanlike team of all time and politely allows for this shot to be set-up. This is likely because Iceland was assuming that their goalie would see the shot coming from a mile away because of how long it takes to set up and how slow the shot ends up being. At the end of the third period, the game is tied.

There is no OT and instead things head right to a five-shot shootout.

With the shoot out going in Team USA’s favour 4-3, Coach Bombay makes the wild choice to switch-Julie the Cat into net, a move that would’ve made more sense earlier in the game when Team USA gave up 4 unanswered goals. Instead, Coach Bombay chooses the last shot in a shootout to send her out, despite her being in no way warmed up having sat on the bench all game. He tells Julie that Gunnar Stahl will deek three times (as an aside: nobody would ever call what he does “deeks”) before shooting glove side. Julie asks what she should do if he shoots stick side because as a high-level goalie in an international tournament, she has no idea what to do if somebody shoots stick side. Coach Bombay tells hers not to worry because Gunnar Stahl is “fancy” and always shoots glove-side because nothing says tournament MVP like a player that always shoots the exact same shot in a shoot-out.

Iceland’s Gunnar Stahl casually skates toward the net before making a full stop – which would normally result in the play being blown dead, however remember that lassoing thing and it’s clear at this point the refs don’t give a single fuck about the rules. He then makes no attempt whatsoever to hide what shot he intends to shoot; if anything he really telegraphs his shot. Julie gloves the puck at which point the most spectacular event of the entire game occurs:

The entire arena collectively loses their sense of object permanence at once.

They saw the puck go into Julie’s glove, but with it closed and it not being in the net, they can’t see the puck at all, so was that goal? To be completely clear: every single person in the arena saw the puck go into her glove, and now with it closed, they have zero fucking clue what happened to the puck. The entire arena has just fallen for the old “where’d the tennis ball go” game you play with your dog. Only once Julie opens her glove to reveal the puck and thus completes the game of “I had the ball the whole time/Who’s a good boy?” she was playing does everyone know there was no goal and that the Mighty Ducks have won.

In conclusion: tournaments that end in shootouts are awful.

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