It was pandemonium on Team USA's bench at the end of the World Junior Hockey Championships on Thursday night. Sticks and gloves flying in every direction, coaches and trainers jumping up and down on the bench, 20 guys all trying to get over the boards to celebrate Team USA's gold medal win over Team Canada, 5-4 in a shootout.
"As soon as [Tyler] Parsons made that final save I don't think anyone's been happier in their life," Bellows said. "It was just a special moment, jumping off that bench, hugging every single guy, it was very special.
Team USA's thrilling, comeback win wouldn't have happened without Bellows, who stepped up on the biggest stage. The Islanders 2016 first-round pick (19th overall) scored two goals, first to tie the game 2-2 and second to make it 4-3, sparking the Americans' third-period comeback.
"I was really fortunate to get those goals. There was a lot of hard work by other guys," Bellows said. "Troy Terry winning that face off, Foxy [Adam Fox] putting the puck on net - it just happened to hit off my butt and go in. And then the second one, Charlie McAvoy making an unbelievable play down the wall and passing to me backdoor, I just had to put it into an empty net."
After the game, Bellows said "Champions walk together forever," and raved about his teammates. The same was true the next day, as Bellows went on about how close-knit Team USA was and what the World Junior experience was like.
"It's quite a journey," he said. "You're spending 21 days with 23 guys and you really bond well together and become almost a family. It's special. Coming out at the end on top is even better, but even if we didn't win we'd still be a family. These guys are a great group of guys, but it's a lot of work though. It's hard work. Playing those seven games, you really test your mental side."
The Americans were tested in the World Juniors, but passed with flying colors. They finished the tournament with a perfect 7-0 record, beating Russia and Canada twice, both in preliminary play and the knockout round. Bellows said the experience of beating Russia in a seven-round shootout in the semis helped when Team USA was in the same situation against Canada one night later.
"The shootouts get pretty crazy, I think the Russia game helped us with our confidence," Bellows said. "Troy Terry did an unbelievable job, the kid has ice in his veins and then Parsons did unbelievable stopping five shots. We had confidence in Troy, we knew he could do it and when he was going down the bench was fired up."
Bellows was part of USA Hockey's National Team Development Program, so wearing USA on his chest isn't anything new, but the Edina, Minn. native is proud to be bringing the gold back home.
"It feels amazing," Bellows said. "We put everything out there and to bring it back to the US is even more special."