Canadian gold on USA’s Miracle ice offers special moment to end Games

LAKE PLACID, NEW YORK – In the late 1980s, Gardiner MacDougall made a pilgrimage. While coaching in western Canada, he made his way to Lake Placid and Herb Brooks Arena to see for himself the house of the “Miracle on Ice.”

On Sunday, in front of a sold-out crowd, MacDougall coached Team Canada to a 7-2 win over Team USA, standing on the same bench and using the same locker room where Herb Brooks gave his “Miracle” speech to Team USA as they defeated the Soviets in 1980.

“I made a special trip to see Lake Placid and to visit the arena, and you never know with the hockey world, so to win a world championship in this rink is really special for hockey history,” MacDougall said following the gold medal win. 

(Ben Steiner)

“[Herb Brooks] was an amazing story for any coach; I have several books on him, I’ve watched the movie, and I just finished a book on Mike Eruzione, so that was special for their country, but this is special for ours.”

TMU Bold forward Kyle Bollers scored the winning goal for Team Canada, the third of the night, finishing off a two-on-one cross-crease pass from TJ Shea to put Canada up 3-0 midway through the second period. 

With the win, Canada captured its first FISU men’s hockey gold medal since MacDougall led an AUS All-Star Team to the top of the podium at Trentino 2013. At the same time, Canada’s men’s and women’s teams won double gold for the first time since those Italian Games a decade ago.

While the Americans scored twice to cancel out goals from Austen Keating and Brett Davis, the Canadians ran roughshod en route to the 7-2 win, silencing a sellout crowd taking in a historic matchup on legendary ice. 

“It’s an unbelievable experience, something I’ve dreamed of as a kid; it’s great to do it with the group here and with have a great team in there, so it’s an unbelievable experience,” Bollers said. “Today was unbelievable, an unbelievable atmosphere in this rink right now; it was crazy and good to see all the family and friends come.”

(Ben Steiner)

Team USA wasn’t supposed to have made it to the gold medal game at the FISU Games, as they nearly fell out at the group stage before the team consisting of NCAA DIII players downed a Kazakh team that nearly all played professionally. 

Yet, they indeed made the final and proved a challenge for Canada, playing at a high pace throughout the game, even as Canada controlled puck possession and the attacking opportunities. 

“You can’t really draw it up any better, Canada and USA at Herb Brooks Arena; I mean, it’s really special,” StFX’s Matt Struthers said. “It’s something you dream of as a kid, and to win like that is super special.”

(Ben Steiner)

Team Canada was driving with speed right from the opening puck drop, quickly establishing offensive possession and maintaining pressure through the period. Austen Keating and Zach Lavigne had the first chances of the day from in close but couldn’t beat Ryan Kenny in the opening moments. 

Seven minutes in, Keating found Canada’s breakthrough, tipping a point shot from Justin Bergeron. Yet, Canada’s pressure didn’t end there, as they continuously peppered Ryan Kenny with shots, including three breakaways.

Soon after, Brett Davis finished off a tic-tac-toe play for his seventh and team-leading goal of the tournament, with Bergeron once again playing the provider. 

TMU’s Kai Edmonds stopped 17 shots on the day, including a sprawling pad save in the second period on Matt Hannewal to keep Canada’s 2-0 lead. 

“It’s really special, we had one goal coming in, and that was gold, and to achieve that with this group is incredible,” Struthers said. “I’ve never gotten so close to a group in two weeks, so it’s really special.”

Canada added a pair of goals in the second period after Team USA scored twice, with Struthers and Concordia’s Tyler Hylland finding the back of the net, while Edmonds ended the night allowing just a pair.

As Canada came back out onto the ice to claim their gold medals, they weren’t treated to the playing of a rendition of “Oh Canada,” with FISU events opting to play the FISU anthem at medal ceremonies instead of the winners’ nations’ anthem. 

For MacDougall and team captain Jared Dmyrtiw, that wasn’t an option. The Canadian players lined up on the blueline and belted out the Canadian anthem in English and French, with hundreds of Canadian athletes and delegates signing from the stands. 

When the team met in Ottawa two weeks ago for a short training camp, they sang the anthem, and as they stepped off the ice with gold on America’s Miracle Ice, they did so to the same tunes. 

“It’s unbelievable, and I’m speechless,” Dmytriw said. 

“I’m so proud of that group with the short amount of time we had before the tournament, how close we got, we just stuck with our gameplan, and I couldn’t be more proud of our group.”

With the win, Canada claims double gold in the FISU hockey tournament for the first time since Trentino 2013, while head coach Gardiner MacDougall wins an AUS championship, Memorial Cup and FISU gold medal all within the last 10 months.

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