For the second time today, an underdog was smoked by the favorites in the 2021 World Juniors. Earlier it was Germany who lost Canada 16-2, and in tonight’s last game it was Austria who fell to the USA with a scoreline of 11-0.
To stay competitive throughout 60 minutes is a near-impossible task for the smaller hockey nations in these sorts of games since they require everything to go perfectly. Good goaltending, an effective powerplay, fantastic discipline, and a ton of luck is required. Tonight, Austria lacked the latter in one play and the game was snowballing away from them.
The Scrappy Goal That Started It All at the 2021 World Juniors
In the first period, Austria had almost everything that a David-like team needs to have in order to stay in the game. They had absolutely fantastic goaltending by Sebastian Wraneschitz, who made some amazing stops on Alex Turcotte and Trevor Zegras. Even when he was unable to save them, the post or forward Mathias Bohm, was able to cover for him and prevent the puck from going in.
Time was slowly winding down for the first period, and staying tied or better in the first 40 minutes is paramount for an upset. If the score is tied or if the underdog somehow is leading it can create frustration with the favorites and that will lead to some mistakes in their play. Mistakes can lead to penalties which is the chance that every underdog needs to capitalize on to win. That’s how you beat the big names of hockey.
For an underdog to stay in the game that long, it also takes a lot of luck and while the USA hit around 15 posts or crossbars, there was one key moment it wasn’t with them in the first period. Right-handed defenseman out of Farmington, Minnesota Drew Helleson mishandled a pass that ended up going towards the net. It took a slight deflection off something and fooled Wraneschitz in the Austrian net. Suddenly the USA was leading and the snowball had been made.
The Definition Of Snowballing
After that goal, the USA never looked back. They suddenly played with confidence and the Austrian looked broken. Their belief in the upset was gone and this showed as the USA started a bombardment to quickly double the lead. Somehow, with Wraneschitz standing on his head, and a few posts Austria didn’t concede further in the first period, but the snowball was showing its ugly face. It had started rolling and there was nothing that center Marco Rossi or anyone else was going to be able to do to stop it.
Two quick goals from team USA in the second period and the snowball had turned into an avalanche, and it was destroying everything in its wake. The USA players were looking to take revenge for the loss against Russia the night before. The unfortunate victim was the Austrian players who had no answer to the fast and skilled Americans who every time they entered the zone looked extremely likely to score. The shots were 52-5 after two periods of play and the score was 7-0.
The snowballing continued in the third where Matthew Boldy finished up his hat trick, and the USA scored four more goals. They never slowed down and from the moment the first goal went in, the game was sealed. When the snowballing started, the upset hope went away. This was what happened tonight against the USA for Austria. Just like it happened for Germany and so many before them. Austria will go down as yet another underdog that fell victim to the snowball at the 2021 World Juniors.
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