Take a knee, boys. All the boys – doesn't matter if you have gold or silver hanging from your necks. What you did out there Thursday night? We'll be talking about it for a long time. A gold-medal final that somehow eclipsed all expectations. Two-goal leads became tie games, became two-goal leads and then tie games again. An overtime where no one stopped. Poor Charlie McAvoy probably still thinks he has one last shift in him – he played 44 minutes in an 80-minute contest.
Anyone could have ended this. Clayton Keller had a glorious chance, but Carter Hart had a blocker save for him. Pierre-Luc Dubois went the other way and found Tyler Parsons in his way, yet again. Tyson Jost had a chance. Mitchell Stephens had a couple. Heck, Joe Cecconi nearly proved that there are no bad shots when he lofted one at Hart and almost came up with the clincher.
Was the shootout the only way to end it? Well, yeah. Nothing stays beautiful forever and the game needed a conclusion. Is it fair? Ask Ryan Lindgren, who missed the proceedings because he was too sick to skate. Life ain't fair, but you keep going because what else is there?
"Either team could have won," said Team USA coach Bob Motzko. "What a game. It was an awesome game. It was a terrific heavyweight fight between two great hockey programs."
That it was, Bob, that it was. But what was it like in the trenches, boys? Because from up in the safety of the Bell Centre clouds, it looked like Heaven and Hell come together. Passion, fury, car-wreck corner battles, each team with a man up high by the opposing blueline, tipping pucks into the zone so that the next wave of attack came as fast as possible…when do you breathe?
"Everyone was pretty tired," said Jordan Greenway. "It was a long game, it was a hard-fought game – they're a really good team over there, right? Everyone was tired but it all paid off, we won the gold medal and we'd do it all again."
Thomas Chabot, you were the MVP of the tournament and rightly so. I know that doesn't mean a whole lot right now, but maybe one day it will. One day you'll be running special teams in Ottawa with Colin White, instead of watching him slip on the medal you strained for. One day he'll chirp you about it in the dressing room and maybe, maybe it'll sting a little instead of a lot. Right now though, not so much.
"I lost one of the biggest games of my life," Chabot said. "I'm not thinking about what's going to happen later on."
And that's OK. We get it. We all watched like nervous parents, hoping that somehow every boy would get what they earned. But Luck doesn't know your name – Luck doesn't know any of your names. Posts were hit, shots were missed and once again, Troy Terry was entrusted with the fate of the game. He had to go five-hole on Hart, didn't he? Every reporter knew that was his go-to move, because he told us that's how he dethroned the Russians the day before.
"I was kinda scared to try it, after yesterday," Terry said. "But as I came down, I saw it was open, so I just hoped for the best and went for it. I was lucky enough to score, but Tyler Parsons was definitely the shootout hero. He went in there and stopped all five shots. That's a testament to how awesome he's been all tournament."
True. Without Parsons, there is no win. But this was a game that needed everyone, every single player, to complete the drama. Even Mikey McLeod got out of the coach's doghouse long enough to set up a Canadian goal.
So wear all the medals proud, boys. We're all exhausted, I can only imagine how you feel. For the first time in the tournament, the stands were full and no matter what the ticket prices were, everyone got their money's worth. If you can go to sleep and dream, then dream. If you feel like you could play that game forever, always pushing for one more goal…well, we understand that, too.