Go, Johnny, go.
Small wonder that the U.S. National Junior Team has been rolling ever since diminutive forward Johnny Gaudreau got untracked offensively.
After going scoreless in the first three games of the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia, the New Jersey native and Boston College sophomore has struck for seven goals and two assists in the last three games as the U.S. has rolled to a berth in the gold–medal game on Saturday against defending WJC champion Sweden.
Gaudreau, who led Dubuque to a United States Hockey League title in 2010-11 and BC to last year’s NCAA title, has been practically unstoppable since the U.S. needed to start winning to stay alive.
Following a preliminary round win over Germany and one-goal losses to Russia and Canada in which he didn’t register a point, the small but speedy winger scored two goals in a 9-3 win over Slovakia to close out the first round.
He then opened the quarterfinals by notching a hat trick in a 7-0 whitewash of the Czech Republic, and added two more goals in yesterday’s 5-1 conquest of Canada, both coming on high shots. The first came following a nifty toe-drag of the puck that got him around a defenseman and the second was an insurance marker on a breakaway that came with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.
“It’s sort of like in Miracle (in 1980) when the Americans beat the Russians in the semifinal and still had to win another game to win the gold,” said Gaudreau in the Camden Courier-Post of the U.S.’s remaining mission. “We beat Canada, and it’s exciting, but we have one more game to play.”
The 5’6”, 141-pound native of Carney’s Point, N.J., who burst onto the public hockey consciousness last spring with his spectacular backhand-to-the-far-side goal that clinched the 2012 national title game against Ferris State, has Calgary Flames’ fans salivating about the fourth-round draft choice from 2011.
Gaudreau already has 11 goals and 12 assists for 23 points in 14 games so far this season for BC, after recording 36 goals and 72 points in Dubuque, and 44 points last season as a freshman with the Eagles. He’ll surely look good in a Flames uniform one day—if the NHL ever gets back to actually playing, that is.
Before heading back to BC, he’s hoping to bring back America’s first WJC gold medal since 2010.
His recent production has certainly given his teammates hope.
“It’s a fantastic thing when one of your top six forwards is producing like that,” said U.S. captain Jake McCabe.
Johnny be good.