It’s been something of an up-and-down 2013 World Junior Championships for Jimmy Vesey – and today is a definite up, as he helped the United States defeat Canada 5-1 to earn a berth in the gold medal game.
After playing limited minutes earlier in the WJC, Vesey earned some extra minutes in the must-win match with Slovakia. He came through there with three assists – his first points of the tournament – as the Americans stayed alive to face off with the Czech Republic in the quarterfinals.
The Nashville Predators prospect didn’t have much of an impact in the game against the Czechs, but the Americans won handily anyway. USA coach Phil Housley and his staff thought highly enough of the Harvard freshman’s performances to give him a promotion. When the Americans hit the ice for warmups, Housley had Jimmy Vesey playing on the top line with J.T. Miller and Johnny Gaudreau.
The change proved to be a good one, both for his linemates and for Vesey himself. His shifts in the first period didn’t produce any points, but he was very active in the offensive zone every time he was on the ice. In the second period he finally picked up his first goal of the tournament on a pretty snipe that beat Malcolm Subban stick-side:
That goal put the Americans up 4-0. Canada scored on a USA defensive lapse to make it 4-1 and began piling on pressure, but the Americans put the game away at 5-1 with 4:19 left. Vesey had a hand in that goal, too, picking up an assist on Johnny Gaudreau’s second of the game to finish with 2 points (1G-1A).
Team USA were portrayed as the underdogs heading into the game against a Canadian squad that defeated them 2-1 in the preliminary round. But with contributions from Jimmy Vesey and his new linemates, and a strong performance from goalie John Gibson when he was needed, they outworked the Canadians in nearly every aspect of the game and earned a pretty big win. With it, Team USA moves on to the 2013 WJC gold medal game on Saturday to face either Russia or Sweden. The gold medal game will air at 8 a.m. ET/7 a.m. CT on NHL Network and stream live at NHL.com.