History no longer a mystery

Team USA players celebrate Jack Johnson scoring the 5-4 overtime winner against Canada on Saturday...

Team USA players celebrate Jack Johnson scoring the 5-4 overtime winner against Canada on Saturday during a preliminary round game of the IIHF World Championship in Helsinki. (Alexander Nemenov/AFP)

Terry Jones, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:08 PM ET

HELSINKI - It would have been a bigger deal if the participants had known the history.

But nobody told them.

It was right at the top of the USA Hockey media notes.

“The United States and Canada meet for the 42nd time in world championship history. Canada leads the series 38-0-2-1-0,” the note began.

That’s 38 U.S. losses.

Two overtime wins.

One regulation win.

Dating back to 1931.

The one regulation win was 4-3 in 1985, the first overtime win was in the gold medal game of 1933 and the other was in a quarterfinal in 2001.

Saturday was a 5-4 win for the Americans in overtime.

None of the players knew, probably because only four of them had ever played at a previous world championship.

“I sure didn’t know,” said Jeff Petry of the Edmonton Oilers. “It feels pretty good, just because we played hard and played well and won it and overtime. To know all that other stuff ... I don’t know.”

There are a lot of ways to look at what happened Saturday.

For one thing, a Canadian team with $74,636,962 million in salaries lost to an American squad with a lineup worth $37,852,976 million. That ratio is about the same in reverse as the 46-23 shots-on-goal advantage by the U.S..

Seeing $112,489,938 million worth of NHL talent on the ice at the same time apparently wasn’t considered a rich entertainment experience, however, as the game attracted only 6,842 fans to the Hartwall Arena, which seats 13,349.

To the international crowd, this was the Americans — who have only won two gold medals at the worlds (1933 and 1960) — versus the Canadians, who haven’t managed to strike gold since 2007.

Team USA only won one medal in the last 10 tournaments (a bronze in 2004), while finishing 13th twice and eighth last year.

The Americans are currently seeded sixth for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

Team Canada, seeded fifth for Sochi, came here with 160 games of world championship experience — including three guys who have won both the Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medals and a remarkable nine players who had represented Canada before their 20th birthdays.

The Americans came here with only four guys — captain Jack Johnson, Kyle Okposo, Cam Fowler and Paul Stastny —who have played in the tournament before.

“Whenever you play Canada, it’s a big stage and a big deal,” said overtime hero Johnson. “But we’ll probably see these guys again at some point.”

Then Johnson hit on what this win was really all about for the Americans. “Bragging rights,” he said.

“Everyone on that team, we see throughout the course of the year in the NHL.

“Some guys are teammates, some guys you see quite a bit. It just adds a little bit of bragging rights.”

Petry, who plays on the Oilers with Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Devan Dubnyk of Team Canada, agreed.

To these young guys, the world championships has nothing to do with ancient history.

It’s all about modern history.

Canada (with the exception of Ryan Murray) and the the U.S. are the only teams in the tournament with lineups made up entirely of NHL players.

And that offers built-in matchups of players who spent the entire season as teammates suddenly going head-to-head against each other.

It was Team USA’s Bobby Ryan against his Anaheim Duck linemates Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry.

It was Kyle Okposo of the New York Islanders against teammate John Tavares.

And it was like that all the way down the respective lineups.

“It’s an easy game to get up for,” said Detroit Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, who stood on head for Team USA.

“You’re having fun out there, and that’s exactly what it was today — fun.”

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca

Twitter@sunterryjones 


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