Team USA hit the ice Sunday afternoon looking to win the bronze medal at the World Championships. It wasn’t what they came for — the gold medal game between Canada and Germany was later in the day — but it was better than a participation trophy.
But in a scenario eerily identical to what happened to the Americans the day before, Team USA lost in overtime to Latvia, 4-3, in Tampere, Finland.
Nokia Arena, packed with mostly exuberant Latvia fans, erupted after Kristians Rubins scored with 5:39 to play in regulation, then sniped a shot over the shoulder of American goalie Casey DeSmith just 1:22 into overtime.
Latvia controlled the faceoff in overtime and maintained possession throughout. The Americans never gained possession of the puck in the brief extra session.
Rubins had his two goals in seven minutes. He only scored two goals in 45 American Hockey League games this season. He has played three NHL games, for Calgary, in his career. The bronze was the first medal ever for Latvia in the World Championships.
Rocco Grimaldi scored the Americans’ first two goals. The 30-year-old spent eight seasons in the NHL, scoring 30 goals in 203 games. Matt Coronato put Team USA ahead, 3-2 at 6:19 of the third period.
And just like that, within 24 hours, the Americans went from an undefeated power at the World Championships to a disappointing fourth-place finish.
Team USA’s bronze medal game was a day — and long night — after a devastating loss to Germany in the semifinals. The Americans led, 2-0, and regained the lead at 3-2 in the second period.
The lead was gone with only 1:23 left to play when Flyers draft pick Marcel Noebels scored for the Germans. At 7:32 of three-on-three overtime, Frederik Tiffels scored for Germany. It was the first loss for Team USA after eight consecutive victories.
Team USA hasn’t won the gold medal at the world championships since 1933.