For two hours on Thursday night, nothing was tweeted more in the United States than #WJC2017.
Team USA was on its way to capturing gold in the World Junior Hockey Championship, generating the tweet storm. And at the center of the storm on the ice in Montreal were Long Islanders Adam Fox, Jeremy Bracco and Charlie McAvoy
According to trends24, a website that tracks trending topics, Americans eagerly clacked away at their keyboards as they watched the United States rally from two two-goal deficits to defeat Canada, 5-4, in a shootout in Montreal.
Jericho’s Fox assisted on three goals, and Long Beach’s McAvoy had a goal and an assist en route to earning Player of the Game honors. In Team USA’s 4-3 semifinal win over Russia, Freeport’s Jeremy Bracco converted a shot in the shootout to help earn the date with Canada.
“Those are two guys I’ve known my whole life,” McAvoy said. “To share this opportunity with them and to share this feeling, it’s incredible.”
“It’s a huge honor,” said Fox, a Harvard University freshman who was selected 66th overall by the Calgary Flames in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. “It’s something that we’ve wanted to do from summer camp. It’s something that USA hockey really wanted to do. To win gold, it’s an unbelievable experience.”
The United States junior team had previously won three gold medals in the competition, but this was the first since 2013. In junior play, the United States was 9-32-3 against Canada. So on Canada’s home ice, especially, Team USA’s come-from-behind championship-game victory was considered an upset.
“There aren’t really words to describe the feeling [of beating Canada],” said McAvoy, a Boston University sophomore who was selected 14th overall by Boston Bruins in the 2016 entry draft. “It’s unbelievable.”
Trailing Canada 2-0 after the first period, McAvoy scored from the slot to halve the deficit early in the second. Fox created the tying goal later in the period, when he fired a shot that deflected off Kieffer Bellows and into the net on a power play.
“[Fox] is an offensive guy,” McAvoy said, “and I think the reason he was on the team was for power play and for offensive instincts. He didn’t fail to produce.”
The emotions really started to swing in the third period. Momentum shifted to Canada early, with a pair of goals in the first 4:05. But Team USA responded 39 seconds later on a Bellows goal assisted by McAvoy.
At the 7:07 mark, Team USA pulled even again on Colin White’s deflection of Fox’s shot.
“We went into the period thinking we’re going to throw the punch and we’re going to shut them down,” McAvoy said. “To go down 4-2 in the third and then come right back like we did, resilience is the only word I have.”
The teams played a scoreless 20 minutes of five-on-five overtime before the United States won in shootout.
“There was obviously a swing of emotions throughout that whole game, going down two-nothing and tying it up, going down four-two and tying it up,” Fox said. “I think just trying to stay confident was big for us.”
MEET THE CHAMPS
Long Islanders on the gold-medal-winning U.S. junior team:
High school: Portledge
Team: Kitchener Rangers (OHL)
Draft rights: Toronto Maple Leafs
High schools: Jericho, Pioneer (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
Draft rights: Calgary Flames
Hometown: Long Beach
High schools: Long Beach, Pioneer (Ann Arbor, Mich.)
College: Boston University
Draft rights: Boston Bruins