Kieffer Bellows scored two goals on eight shots in the gold medal game of the World Junior Championships against Canada Thursday night, which the Americans won in a shootout, 5-4.
Bellows was the Islanders' first-round selection in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
Bellows was having a slow start at the just completed World Junior Championship, held in Toronto and Montreal. But he got it going at a most crucial moment.
After playing a little over seven minutes in the first two periods, he logged over 11 in the game's final two and clearly made the most of his opportunity, scoring a huge goal when Team USA went down by two goals early in the third to spring his team back to life.
He also earned the shinier medal over future teammate Mathew Barzal, who finished the tournament 3-5-8 in seven games for team Canada.
Bellows ended up with 2-1-3 in seven games on 18 shots -- not exactly a fantastic offensive showing for the 18-year old, but the fact he saved his best for last is an admirable and much needed trait when he someday dons the sweater of the big club.
Team USA, despite being outshot 50-36, won their third gold medal at the tournament since 2010, the most of any nation. It was the first time they met the Canadians in the deciding game since that same year in Saksatoon. Over the last eight World Juniors, the US has earned a medal in five -- the best stretch in the history of the country.
While seeing some sass on social media coming from our neighbors up north, the large majority agreed the Americans earned this victory, coming from two down twice in hostile territory. Canada will always be the "birthplace of hockey" but nations are catching up. That's not a bad thing, it only enhances tournaments like the one we just witnessed.
Next year, it will be played in Buffalo from December 26 - January 5 and will feature the first outdoor game in World Junior history. These two proud nations will go at it again from New Era Field, home of the NFL's Buffalo Bills.
Bellows was impressive, as he showed a good nose for the puck and directing plenty of rubber at Canada's Carter Hart. It really was the best I've ever seen Bellows play, and it's encouraging it was in such a big game.
I've heard a few fans be pessimistic about Bellows, which to me is just insane. The kid is just 18 years old and has a lot of development time ahead of him. Maybe this effort will make some not so quick to write him off.
"Mom wasn't watching. She couldn't," Bellows said. "Dad was staring, watching the game, freaking out probably. It was such a surreal atmosphere. [With] 22,000 people in Montreal screaming for Canada and the chants of 'Canada,' it makes it tough. We never panicked. We stayed calm."
Barzal also had an assist for Team Canada in the game.
"It sucks losing in a shootout," Barzal told reporters after the game. "You can't really write up a worse way to lose."