Alex Galchenyuk and John Gibson showed Sunday that the international future for the United States in ice hockey is bright and helped their nation bring home a bronze medal at the 2013 IIHF World Championship in the process.
Galchenyuk kept the U.S. alive in the third round of a shootout and scored the decisive goal on their next attempt, and Gibson was brilliant throughout in a 3-2 victory over Finland at Globe Arena in Stockholm, Sweden.
Both players are just 19 years old. Galchenyuk recently completed his rookie season with the Montreal Canadiens after he was selected with the third pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, while Gibson, a second-round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2011, led the U.S. to gold at the World Junior Championship earlier this year, earning MVP honors in the process.
The medal was the first won by the Americans at the Worlds since they took home bronze in 2004. Switzerland, which beat the U.S. in the semifinals on Saturday, plays Sweden for the gold later Sunday.
"We're a young team and we have a few guys who don't have any pro experience coming into this," defenseman Matt Carle told the IIHF website. "We got better as the tournament went along and got into a good position in our group. This is a good consolation."
Extra time was needed in this one after Lauri Korpikoski scored twice in a span of 3:22 midway through the third period to rally Finland.
His goals wiped out a lead the U.S. built in the first thanks to a goal and an assist each from Craig Smith and team captain Paul Stastny.
"It's tough. They wanted it, we wanted it," Finland defenseman Ossi Vaananen said. "We had a bad start, and there's no excuse for that. We tried to be ready. It's a challenge, though, for a game like this. But the USA was ready for the first period."
Gibson made 36 saves through 60 minutes of regulation and a 10-minute overtime, but Janne Pesonen beat him in the second round of the shootout.
Finland goalie Antti Raanta had already stopped T.J. Oshie after Smith lost the puck off his stick on the United States' first attempt.
Another save or miss would have meant bronze for Finland, but instead Galchenyuk calmly walked in and beat Raanta to keep the U.S. alive. Korpikoski had a chance to win it for Finland, but missed the net with his shot.
After three rounds, the shooting order changed and Finland was up again to start the fourth round. This time, Mikael Granlund, who set up both of Korpikoski's goals, missed the net with his attempt.
IIHF rules allow teams to use the same shooter after three rounds, so it was Galchenyuk again for the Americans and he made it 2-for-2, starting the celebration as his teammates spilled off the bench.