Originally posted on Tonight's Healthy Scratches  |  Last updated 1/5/13
Three games into the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship, you wondered if Team USA would miss qualifying for the medal round for the second consecutive year. With the seventh-place finish of 2012 still reeking after back-to-back 2-1 losses to their two biggest rivals, the Americans were in playoff mode one game early. Questions swirled. Is Phil Housley really the right guy for this job? Is he rely too much on his offensive defensemen? Is he pushing the right buttons? Turns out those questions were a bit premature. The Americans steamrolled Slovakia to get into the medal round, then didn't let up a bit against the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals. A combined 16-3 score in two games? Well that certainly wasn't the offensively-starved US team we saw through three games. Housley shuffled his lines, moving a player without a current line, Jim Vesey, to the first unit. The move was drastic, but had wide-ranging effects up and down the lineup. Perhaps the biggest impact was felt on John Gaudreau, who ignited alongside Vesey. The kid they call "Johnny Hockey" exploded for five goals and an assist in those two games. Vesey had three assists. Good thing Housley chose not to cut him, like it was rumored in pre-tournament play. Then came the mighty Canadians. In a rematch of one of those 2-1 losses, the Americans started like they were fired out of a cannon. Two goals by captain Jake McCabe had the US out to a 2-0 lead before Team Canada could blink. Both goals that were a direct result of a hard forecheck, a staple of many successful American teams in recent history, and something Housley stressed incessantly. Then, Gaudreau continued his resurgence with another pair of goals. Before long, thanks in large part to John Gibson's stellar performance, the rout was on. Housley had left his mark on this team already, heading into the gold medal game against Sweden. This team, who had yet to accomplish their goal of proving Seth Jones right as the tournament's best team, stared in the face of a opposing force that was supposed to knock them off. But the Americans didn't just beat them. They trounced them. The learning had been underway for months under Housley's leadership, we just didn't know it yet. On the grandest stage of all, in the gold medal game, Housley's impact was felt again. Rocco Grimaldi, all 5'6" of him, entered this tournament as one of the premiere American forwards expected to produce. After a going scoreless through three games, Housley sent a message to Grimaldi and his team by stapling him to the end of the bench. Grimaldi mostly watched as the Americans surged to the final, seeing limited time against Canada as the 13th forward. The snakebitten forward was hungry again. Housley let him loose against Sweden, and was rewarded in kind. The ever-persistent Grimaldi wasn't discouraged when he blistered a snapshot past Niklas Lundstrom that hit both (!) posts but somehow stayed out of the net in the first period, a shot that nearly gave the Americans the lead. But as EJ Hradek persisted, the hockey gods can be as kind as they are cruel. Grimaldi's sharp-angle shot tied the game at one, but he was far from done. Less than three minutes later, a shot by Jacob Trouba bounced off Grimaldi in front and past Lundstrom and all of a sudden, the Americans were in front. Thanks to a stellar post-to-post save on a wraparound attempt by Gibson, who turned in effort after effort that would make Jim Craig blush, the US stayed in front. With under a minute to play and Sweden's last-ditch attack intensifying, Housley leaned on his checking unit of Cole Bardreau, Ryan Hartman and Vince Trocheck who had served him well the entire tournament. After Hartman and Tyler Biggs neutralized a Swedish power play early in the period, Hartman managed to get the puck out of the zone, springing Trocheck on a breakaway. With no goalie to stop him, the celebration was on for the Americans with just 16 seconds to play. Housley, of course, is a former US Olympian himself. He earned a silver medal at the 2002 Olympics and a Gold at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, arguably his career's crowning achievement. He knew better than most what it would take to overtake a more talented Canadian roster. And he executed his plan to perfection. Nobody will remember that this team lost two games that pushed them to the brink of elimination. What will be celebrated is how their head coach managed to right the ship and find his Midas touch as his team rolled to their third gold medal at the World Junior Hockey Championships.
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Osweiler: Film from last two years proves I should be starter

Daughter of Bucks owner burns Bill Simmons on Twitter

Tiger Woods tells golf world to try and kick this football he’s holding

Tyronn Lue: Gameplanning to defend Celtics harder than Warriors

How the Senators can upset the Penguins in Game 7

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Report: Paxton Lynch cutting out early while other QBs stay late

Michael Jordan unique 1984 Converse shoes could fetch up to $100K at auction

Joe Girardi has interesting reason why no medical scans for Masahiro Tanaka

Ezekiel Elliott’s mom fires back after son criticized for being in car accident

Browns make Ryan Grigson senior personnel executive

Potential No. 1 pick Markelle Fultz looks positively jacked in recent photo

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

Box Score 5/24: Craig Anderson saves the Senators

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

Box Score 5/23: Preds, Warriors move on to respective Finals

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Two months in and Nintendo's Switch dominates 2017 video game market

NHL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Why the Indianapolis 500 is called 'the greatest spectacle in racing'

The 'Farewell to the Manu, the Myth, the Legend' quiz

NBA Referee Hotline Bling: Dejounte Murray gets his calls blocked twice

It's reality check time for the Texas Rangers

The 'Walk on home, boy' quiz

NBA Weekend Awards: Who will take a bite of the Snow White Crystal Apple?

Why wait? Our too soon Cavaliers-Warriors NBA Finals preview

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The 'How two award snubs might shake up the NBA' quiz

Preparing for the BIG3: Q&A with BIG3 co-founder Jeff Kwatinetz

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker