Team USA edges Switzerland 2-1
Wednesday, 01.04.2012 / 7:27 PM / 2012 World Junior Championship
By Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer
CALGARY -- Jack Campbell was in no mood to celebrate after establishing a record for most career goalie victories at the World Junior Championship on Wednesday -- even though he made 21 saves to lead the U.S. National Junior Team to a 2-1 victory over Switzerland in relegation-round play before 10,624 at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
"It's a special honor that I can't really say I'm happy about because of the disappointing finish," Campbell told reporters after the game.
Campbell, who recorded his third victory of the tournament, passed Al Montoya for most wins at the tournament in three years. His victory over Switzerland improved his three-year WJC mark to 8-2-1-3 (W-OTW-OTL-L) in 14 appearances. Campbell has helped the Americans to a gold medal (2010) and a bronze (2011) at the WJC.
"It would have meant a lot more with the gold medal," Campbell said. "It just goes to the credit of how good my teams have been when I've played here. I'm so honored to hold that record because I've always looked up to Al Montoya and he's been an unbelievable guy to me.
"He taught me a lot last year and the year before, so to pass him on the all-time record list is something I never really thought I could do."
If it's any consolation to the Americans, Wednesday's victory assured the team would not be placed in Group A with this year's gold medalist at the 2013 WJC in Ufa, Russia. Switzerland, which finished eighth in the tournament, will be in the five-team pool with the winner of Thursday's gold medal game pitting Russia and Sweden.
Campbell's best save might have come during a Swiss power play eight minutes into the third and the Americans holding a 2-1 lead. Lino Martschini took a drop pass in prime position between the circles and blasted a shot that Campbell took in the breadbasket. Campbell also denied Gaetan Haas on a shorthanded attempt from the right hash.
"It was a good win for us … we had to come out and show our pride and get the three points and that's what we did," Campbell said.
Along with U.S. teammate and captain Jason Zucker, Campbell became the first American player to earn three gold medals at International Ice Hockey Federation events -- two with the U.S. Under-18 Team in 2009 and 2010 and one at the 2010 WJC in Saskatoon.
"We knew about [the potential record] before the game and it was something we wanted to make sure happened," Zucker said. "He's a great goalie who has kept us in a lot of games and won us many games. He'll be remembered forever in this room."
All the scoring took place in the first period.
Austin Czarnik opened the scoring at 11:28 on Team USA's first shot of game when he won an offensive-zone draw and bulled his way towards the cage before slipping a shot past goaltender Tim Wolf. Switzerland evened things at 14:49 when Haas took a pass from Joel Vermin low in the left circle and fired a shot past Campbell.
Defenseman Kevin Gravel gave the U.S. its second lead at 16:15 when his blast from the left point beat Wolf. After totaling 12 goals and 16 points in a 12-2 victory over Latvia on Tuesday, the U.S. line of Brandon Saad, Austin Watson and Nick Bjugstad was held pointless by the Swiss.
The Swiss missed a golden opportunity to even the score late in the first when Tanner Richard stole a stretch pass attempt by Adam Clendening in the neutral zone and skated in one-on-one against Campbell. Richard deked and tried to stuff a shot home at the left post with Campbell doing the splits, but his attempt hit the side of the post.
Campbell finished the tournament 3-2 with a 2.62 goals-against average and .906 save percentage.
"It was definitely cool to help Jack get that record," U.S. defenseman Jacob Trouba told NHL.com. "Jack is the nicest guy you will ever meet, and he deserves that mark. He's a guy who always tries to help and is definitely about the team. He'll come out after every period and thank the defensemen … he's such a great guy and I'm really proud I was in that game because he really deserves that."
And how would Campbell like this American team to be remembered?
"The fact we showed a lot of character," he said. "I can't tell you how difficult it is to set your mind on something and have the goal of winning a gold medal and then getting eliminated from the whole tournament. Having to come out and play three games without really having any meaning, playing Canada and then Latvia and again [against Switzerland].
"I think every U.S. team from now on should look at this team and say, 'You know what? They didn't have the tournament they wanted, but they still battled."
In addition to Trouba, who's eligible for the 2012 NHL Draft, there are two players off this U.S. roster who will be eligible to return to the 2013 WJC -- goalie John Gibson and forward J.T. Miller.
"[Trouba] has been consistent from the time we had the tryout camp and he's got a little bit of everything," U.S. coach Dean Blais said. "He skates well, is physical, he moves the puck, communicates pretty well on the ice. He doesn't make a whole lot of mistakes and he's just going to get better and better."