Canada's Stars Beat America's Stripes

It was the rematch. It was a year in the making. Last year's heroes and ghosts would be laid to rest in favour of this year's heroes and ghosts. It was the latest chapter in the great modern hockey rivalry.

And it was almost tragically anti-climactic.

In the end there will be apologists. People who say the United States was set up for failure from the beginning. They weren't given tough enough competition. Their stiffest challenge came from a team who couldn't make it to the semi-finals. Meanwhile the Canadians have known since Boxing Day that they were in a heavyweight bout.

But the Americans had eight returnees who played in this tournament last year. So, in the end, this excuse is no better or worse than any other.

The Canadians dominated this game from beginning to end. Their forwards were faster and more creative. Their defensemen were more physical and engaged. And in a surprise of surprises, Canada's goaltending equalled that provided by Jack Campbell.

You want to talk about total team efforts? About sixty minute performances? That's what Dave Cameron got out of his charges tonight. Full marks to every Canadian player, there wasn't a weak performance to pick out of the lot.

For the United States, there's some post mortem to do. Jack Campbell was as good as he good be expected to be. He just got drastically overwhelmed. Full marks to Jon Merrill on the back end for the United States and Charlie Coyle up front for the United States, they were the best skaters for their team all tournament.

America's veterans let this team down. Jeremy Morin and Jason Zucker earn a small exemption because both were playing hurt. But Jerry D'Amigo, Chris Kreider, Ryan Bourque and John Ramage weren't able to lead the Americans past their biggest rivals. For a lot of them, they were invisible for long stretches of the tournament.

And that might be the tale of the tape for those two teams in this tournament. Canada's nineteen year-olds like Brayden Schenn and Ryan Ellis have stepped up to lead this team. America's nineteen year-olds simply didn't.

As a sidenote, the Leafs have until January 10th to make a final decision on whether Jerry D'Amigo should spend the rest of the season in the AHL or OHL. The Leafs were hoping that this tournament would help D'Amigo get back on track when he returned to the AHL. But he looked as lost as he has for most of the season with the Marlies. Maybe a stretch run in the OHL can do for him what it helped do for Alex Pietrangelo last season and will do for Brayden Schenn this year.