Slovakia-USA: Slovakia Performs "Miracle on Ice" by Eliminating Team USA in WJHC

Derek HarmsworthSenior Writer IJanuary 2, 2009

Another year, and another high-powered American team eliminated in disappointing fashion from the World Junior Hockey Championship.

In what will no doubt be Slovakia’s “Miracle On Ice,” the less talented underdogs from Europe came to play and defeated the USA to eliminate them from the tournament.

It’s another year of unfavourable results for team USA, who has only won one medal since their gold victory in 2004.

A shaky goaltender didn’t help matters.  The usually collected Thomas McCollum was guessing all day and got his team behind the eight ball, allowing three goals on eight shots in the opening period, to put USA down 3-1.

Despite the fact they made it 3-2, it was a hole they simply couldn’t climb out of.

As Slovakia made it 4-2, there were more bench shenanigans for the United States, but as was the case in Canada, there was no reason for Slovakia to celebrate right in front of the American bench.

But taking a step back to look at it, who could blame them?

The Americans boasted several top prospects and NHL draftees.  A high powered offense.  A big, mobile defense.  An otherwise solid goaltender.

Though USA being upset in the World Juniors isn’t surprising, due to its recent regularity, it is still worth saying that today, Goliath fell.

And they fell against a seemingly inadequate Slovakia, playing the role of David.

Buoyed by fantastic goaltending by Jaroslav Janus, the Slovakians gave the Erie Otters goaltender all the cushion he needed to outshine his Ontario Hockey League counterpart.

Of course it won’t get any easier now, seeing as Slovakia will battle the tournament favourites Sweden, but there is no reason they shouldn’t look at this year’s tournament as a landmark accomplishment for Team Slovakia.

As TSN’s Pierre McGuire said, “this is Slovakia’s 1980.  Enjoy it boys!”

Slovakia will go on to play Sweden for a medal, while USA will now try to pick it up and battle for fifth place.