Golden Boy

Wednesday, 06.01.2010 / 6:55 PM / Features
By Derek Jory
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Golden Boy

For Canadian hockey fans, there’s little to take away from Team Canada’s 6-5 overtime loss to Team USA in the final of the 2010 World Junior Hockey Championship.

The Canadians rallied from two goals down late in the third period to force overtime, yet they didn’t have the stamina needed to capture a sixth straight gold medal.

The news isn’t entirely bad for Canucks fans. With the Americans standing atop the podium sporting gold for the first time since 2004, Vancouver prospect Jordan Schroeder can add the accomplishment to his resume.

A second gold medal in as many seasons for a Canucks first round pick isn’t a bad consolation prize at all.

Schroeder, Vancouver’s first round draft selection from 2009, wasn’t the king of the castle but he played a significant role for the Americans throughout the tournament and especially in the rousing win over Canada.

After Canada jumped out to a 1-0 lead two minutes into the game, the US responded with a pair of goals 30 seconds apart, the second scored by Schroeder as he beat Jake Allen with a wrist shot high to the short side.

The goal, Schroeder’s third of the tournament and second in two games versus Canada, not only helped David inch closer to taking down Goliath, it also put the 19-year-old Minnesota product in elite company.

He finished his third World Junior tournament with three goals and five assists for eight points in seven games, giving him seven goals and 20 assists for 27 points to break Jeremy Roenick’s all-time points record of 25 (13-12-25) with the red, white and blue.

Schroeder also now sits third on the all-time assists list at the World Juniors having surpassed Eric Lindros and his 19 helpers.

Like a true gold medalist, Schroeder couldn’t have cared less about individual accolades after upending Canada.

"We had a lot of different guys step up and that's what it takes to win," Schroeder told the NHL Network. "We're a character team and every single guy played a part in this. We're a really close-knit group and I couldn't be happier right now."

One of the most noticeable factors that led to a USA win, and a supremely close game when the teams met on New Year’s Eve, was team speed, according to Schroeder.

The quickness of the Americans was as evident as ever on the championship clinching goal when following a stop by netminder Jack Campbell, who started the third period in relief of Mike Lee, the US exploded up ice on a 3-on-1 rush led by John Carlson.

Canadian goaltender Martin Jones tried to take away the pass to the middle and that gave Carlson just enough daylight stick side to end the game. Speed kills.

“I didn’t realize how fast our forwards actually were and it showed out there, we created a lot of chances,” Schroeder told Edmonton Oilers reporter Kristi Hennessy.

“We had one of the fastest teams I thought in the tournament, maybe us and Sweden were the top two, and we wanted to exploit their D by using our speed, and I think we did a good job of that.”

Schroeder will no doubt take a few days to savour this championship, but he’ll have to turn things around fairly quick with the University of Minnesota in action against Harvard on back-to-back days this weekend.

Schroeder, the first Golden Gopher to win a gold medal at the World Juniors, will be welcomed back with open arms after having missed his team’s last four games.

It’s been an up and down season so far for the sophomore forward, but as of late his game has shown signs of improvement and he’s now got four goals and eight assists in 18 games. Despite being well off his torrid scoring pace of 45 points (13-32-45) in 32 games from a year ago, Schroeder said he’s continually developing into the player the Canucks envision in their line-up in the future.

That path could lead through the WHL, as rumours have suggested, but Schroeder said you can’t believe everything you read.

“I’m just going to focus on the rest of my season, especially after the gold medal here, and then I’ll take it one step at a time and go from there,” said Schroeder, admitting that Minnesota needs to elevate its game in the second half of the season.

“The team’s been struggling a little bit the first half but we’re going to turn things around here hopefully.”

As long as Schroeder continues to demonstrate his golden touch, Minnesota will be just fine.