It hasn't been all smooth-sailing for Team USA at the 2013 World Junior Championships, but they've put themselves in position for a medal. Which medal they will be playing for will be determined later tonight (or early this morning, depending on how you look at it) when they face Canada in the semi-finals.
Team USA dropped a pair of games in pool play--including a 2-1 result to Canada--but bounced back with dominating 7-0 shutout of the Czech Republic Wednesday morning in the quarter-final round to set up a re-match with the Canadians.
The United States enters the contest with the top ranked penalty kill and power play, a very important note given how this entire tournament has been called. Every game has featured a variety of bizarre calls, including some that have drawn heavy criticism by tournament media.
In their first contest, goaltenders John Gibson (U.S.A), and Malcolm Subban (Canada) were both outstanding. I'd expect to see that once again in the semi-final contest, as those are two of the top under-20 goaltenders in the world.
Wisconsin sophomore defenseman Jake McCabe has had an outstanding tournament for the Americans. The Eau Claire, Wis. native has been paired up with Seth Jones of the Portland Winterhawks (WHL) lately to form a shut-down pairing that can be relied upon in all situations. Expect to see Jones and McCabe paired up against Canada's superstar line of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Mark Scheifele, and Jonathan Drouin.
Thursday's early game vs Canada will be broadcast live on the NHL Network and streamed live on NHL.com at 3 a.m. CST. I'll be tweeting live updates during the game.
For more Wisconsin hockey coverage, follow Andy on Twitter (@AndyJohnsonB5Q)
You can also reach Andy via e-mail (AndyJohnsonB5Q@gmail.com)