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USA Hockey Takes the Game Outside

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The annual International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Junior Championship Tournament took place in Buffalo, New York from December 26 to January 5. The yearly tournament features the top prospects under the age of 20 from the United States of America, Canada, Sweden, Russia, Denmark, Belarus, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.

This year the tournament decided to take things outside for one of the preliminary round games. On December 29, 2017, the reigning gold medal champions, Team USA battled Team Canada at New Era Field, the home of the Buffalo Bills.

The long awaited outdoor game was almost moved indoors because of the freezing temperatures in Buffalo, but after having both teams practice outside the IIHF decided to keep the game outdoors.

In order to have the game outdoors the city of Buffalo and New Era Field came together to turn a football stadium into a hockey arena. Buffalo citizens were hired at $11 an hour to shovel out the stands, and those who worked four hours or more were given tickets to the game.

After lots of work from the citizens of Buffalo, the day of the game finally arrived. Over 44,000 fans from all over the United States and Canada faced the freezing temperatures and the snow that fell throughout the game to cheer for their countries’ best prospects.

Team Canada capitalized early on two USA penalties in the first period to take a 2-0 lead into the second period with them. The United States scored on a 5-on-3 power play in the second to come within one goal of Canada, but Canada scored a minute later to regain their 2 goal lead.

USA battled hard in the third period and scored two goals to tie the game and force overtime. After a 5 minute scoreless overtime, a shootout was what was required to find the winner of the game.

The USA scored on 2 out of 3 shots in the shootout and American goalie Jake Oettinger saved all 4 of Canada’s shots to secure the win for the United States.

The United States finished in second place in their division and defeated Russia in the quarterfinals, but fell to Sweden in the semifinals. The United States defeated the Czech Republic 9-3 to take home the bronze medal. This is the first time in the history of USA Hockey that they have brought home a World Juniors medal three years in a row (bronze in 2016, gold in 2017 and bronze in 2018).

 

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