In a game often played amid a storybook scene, the United States got a storybook finish.
The U.S., reeling from an upset loss to Slovakia Thursday night, rallied to beat archrival Canada, 4-3, in a shootout in the first outdoor game in the history of hockey's World Junior Championship.
The game was played 44,592 at New Era Field, easily establishing a new World Juniors attendance record.
Shoveling on skates: A steady snowfall throughout the contest made it a picture-perfect outdoor game, with teams battling in a something of a snow globe at the home of the Buffalo Bills. Several times throughout the game, play was halted as tournament workers skated on to the ice to shovel snow off the playing surface, with some workers skating off with wheelbarrows filled with heaps of snow.
Shootout shutout: The U.S. won the shootout, 4-0, as no Canadian skater could beat goalie Jake Oettinger. He had one save.
To start the shootout, Canada's Sam Steel missed left and USA's Kieffer Bellows scored to give the U.S. control.
In the second round, Robert Thomas was stopped by Oettinger and Brady Tkachuk scored for the U.S. for a 2-0 lead.
In the third round, Canada again missed with Taylor Raddysh going high.
With a chance for the ultimate storybook finish for Buffalo fans, Sabres draft pick Casey Mittelstadt was stopped by Canada goalie Carter Hart.
The shootout lasted only one more shooter, as Drake Batherson shot wide to the left, prompting Oettinger to race towards his bench, where his teammates bounded over the boards and on to the ice in celebration.
U.S. digs itself out: In regulation, the United States fell into a pair of two-goal holes before coming back to forge a 3-3 tie.
Canada led, 3-1, after two periods but the U.S. tied it with a pair of goals in a 34-second span.
Scott Perunovich scored on the power play with 13:51 left in the third period, and Tkachuk added a goal with 13:17 left in the third.
Mittelstadt major stats: Mittelstadt continued his outstanding tournament by recording assists on all three U.S. goals. His was the only assist on both third-period goals while he also had the primary assist on Bellows' second-period goal (with 3:33 to play) that briefly made the score 2-1 (Canada scored 1:12 later to go up, 3-1).
Snowvertime II: This marked the second game at New Era Field which went to "snowvertime" this month, following the Buffalo Bills' 13-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Dec. 10.
The teams played a five-minute, three-on-three overtime with no scoring. Play was stopped at 2:30 for the teams to switch ends (and there was another clearing of the snow off the ice).
More numbers: The U.S. outshot Canada, 36-22. Hart had 32 saves, Oettinger had 19. Canada's scorers were captain Dillon Dube, Boris Katchouk and Cale Makar. Canada had 12 penalty minutes to the USA's six.
What's next: Canada plays Denmark at 8 p.m. Saturday at KeyBank Center.
The U.S. is off Saturday; the Americans play Finland at 4 p.m. Sunday at KeyBank Center.
Sunday is the final day of preliminary play. Monday is a day off with quarterfinals being played Tuesday at noon, 2, 4 and 6 p.m. The semifinals are Thursday at 4 and 8 p.m. at KeyBank Center. On Friday, the bronze game is at 4 p.m.; the gold game is at 8.