OTTAWA - Angelo Esposito was more than willing to take a punch in the head from a blue-chip prospect to help Canada win gold.
At 3:31 of the second period, Esposito collided with Swedish goalie Jacob Markstrom and knocked him to the ice. Six-foot-six defenceman Victor Hedman jumped Esposito, got him in a headlock and threw some punches, but the Montreal junior forward didn't react.
Remarkably, no penalty was called to any player on the play.
"In international hockey, you can't fight," said Esposito. "You don't want to get a stupid penalty and get kicked out of the game.
"He got me in the headlock and he was punching me. I'm surprised he didn't get a penalty because I wasn't reacting. You can't take stupid penalties in a crucial game like this."
Markstrom was bowled over at least three times by Canadian players, mainly when he wandered far out of his crease to play pucks. Hedman was incensed that there were no calls, except one later in that period when Markstrom was fingered for diving.
"It was frustrating," said Hedman, projected to be among the top picks at the NHL draft in June. "They ran over our goalie two times.
"I don't know what rules the referees had but they were not the rules that were there before the tournament. They said you can't touch to goalie, that it's two minutes right away. It's like they changed the rules for this game."
Only 35 seconds after the collision with Markstrom, Esposito won a battle for the puck in the corner, cut toward the net and beat markstrom with a clever backhand shot to the top corner.
"Deeds (Chris DiDomenico) and Johnny (Tavares) were fighting for puck and I got it and just went to the net," said Esposito. "At the time, you just want to win the game, but now that I have that goal, it feels good."