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Another Game, Another Shootout: USA Hockey Is Going For Gold After Beating Rival Canada, 6-5

by Brendan Rourke

The U.S. Hockey team skates to celebrate their shootout win over Canada with goaltender Xavier Wendt during the Winter Youth Olympic Games Gangwon 2024 on Jan. 30, 2024 in Gangneung, South Korea. (Photo by Thomas Lovelock/OIS)

GANGWON, South Korea — It’s only fitting that one of the greatest rivalries in winter sports – the U.S. versus Canada in ice hockey – is equally as great at the Winter Youth Olympic Games.

Team Captain Parker Trottier netted two goals, his linemates Mikey Burchild and JP Hurlbert added one apiece, and netminder Xavier Wendt tallied a monstrous 37 saves – not to mention all three of Team Canada’s penalty shots – to win 6-5 over Canada on a chilly Tuesday night at the Gangneung Hockey Center.

With just over two minutes left to play, Canada’s Zachary Nyman snapped a wrist shot past Wendt to knot the score at five apiece. However, Wendt stood tall in the shootout. After Hurlbert connected on the U.S.’ first penalty shot, Wendt denied all of Canada’s top scorers in a row, including Alessandro di Iorio, who notched a hat trick in their previous game against Finland.

“I felt way more relaxed than the first game,” Wendt said of his goaltending performance. “I’ve never played in front of a crowd that big.”

The Plymouth, Minnesota native also mentioned that moments before the shootout, he saw his Mom on the Jumbotron cheering him on.

“I’m just so proud of him,” Hurlburt said about Wendt. “It’s something I’ve never seen from him before – for him to be calm in that moment of a big game, it was amazing, I couldn’t be happier.”

In his first game against Slovakia, Wendt fought off the jitters late to collect 16 saves and a shootout win.

But, he knew he could do better.

“He told us after the first game, he was ready to go and ready to rebound,” said head coach Joe Bennett. “I was really proud of his effort tonight.”

The U.S. played out in front for much of the night, firing perfect passes to the open man and choosing their shots wisely. While they fired just 16 shots on net, five of them went in, including a swift one-timer from Trottier off a back-pass from Burchild.

Canada’s high-powered offense found ways to respond, but they never took the lead. While the leading protector was Wendt, the U.S.’ defense stopped several other rushes by swarming the puck carrier as soon as they crossed into the offensive zone, avoiding sustained play along the boards where Canada had a size advantage.

“We spend a lot of time taking away the middle,” Bennett said of the gameplan. “I thought our boys did very well, not just the defensemen but the forwards as well.”

The win, which came in the U.S.’ third consecutive game ending in a shootout, sends to the gold-medal match. They will square off against Czechia in a rematch of the squad’s second game in the preliminary rounds, which Czechia won in shootout fashion, 6-5.

The team hopes they can avoid a fourth consecutive shootout. However, as Captain, Trottier knows how to keep his squad calm and focused if it does.

“I’m telling them to keep their head up,” he said. “Whether it’s because they made a bad play or got beat. You just have to keep your head up.”

Fans wanting to watch the U.S. go for the gold can do so at