10 years ago, John Carlson became an American hero

Chris Lingebach
January 03, 2020 - 9:20 pm
10 years ago, John Carlson became an American hero

Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Capitals defenseman John Carlson is coming up on the 10-year anniversary of his crowning achievement as an amateur, when he lifted Team USA over Canada in the Gold Medal game of the 2010 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships.

On Jan. 5, 2010, Carlson – fresh-faced and just 19 years old – sunk the game-winner 4:21 into overtime for a 6-5 victory in the 34th edition of the IIHF World U20 Championship, robbing gold from Canada, on their home ice in Saskatchewan, Canada, in heartbreaking upset fashion.

Only a month and a half earlier, Carlson – the 27th overall pick in the 2008 NHL draft – had made his professional debut with the Capitals, but only played in three games before being sent back down to Hershey.

"It was an important time for me in my career," Carlson said of the gold medal moment, recalling it fondly during his weekly appearance with 106.7 The Fan's Chad Dukes, presented by The Purple Heart.

Carlson returned home an American hero.

"I think it really helped springboard my confidence," he said. "And that year I wound up getting called up towards the end of the year here with Washington, and I think that had a lot to do with it."

Historically Team Canada has owned the under-20 tournament, currently with 17 gold medals in tow. After winning its first tournament in 2004, Team USA would watch Canada go on to win the next five, setting the stage for a gold medal game for the ages in 2010 and for Carlson to cement his legacy as a national hero.

"It was always nice – we don't have too many Canadiens anymore – but it was always nice to kind of give them something to be sorry about, because they had so much success against anyone," Carlson said, "before we finally won. It's always nice to have that one in my back pocket."

Here's a look at the game recap after Carlson's historic game-winner:

"John Carlson's goal at 4:21 of overtime lifted the United States to a thrilling 6-5 victory over Canada in the gold medal game of the 2010 IIHF World U20 Championship. It was the first U.S. gold since beating Canada in the 2004 tournament, and only the second in history for the 'other' North American hockey power.

"The 19-year-old Washington Capitals defenceman fired a quick shot from the left side to beat Canada's Martin Jones, sparking a wild celebration by the American players, aged 18.5 years on average. (Remarkably, Carlson also scored the deciding goal against Sweden in the semis.) This was Carlson's second goal of the night.

"'I kind of closed my eyes and it went in,' said Carlson of his OT stunner. 'It was unbelievable.'"

"What's your trophy room look like at this point?" Dukes asked. "Is it a wing in your house?"

"No, I don't have one," Carlson said through laugher. "Certainly that one was pretty special to me and ranks pretty high up there."

"Do you have a storage unit? What do you have?" Dukes pressed further. "Like you have to have something for all this stuff."

"Just a basement right now," Carlson replied. "There's only a few coveted things that I truly care about, in terms of hanging onto stuff, and that World Junior ring is one of them."

You can hear the interview with Carlson at the 28-minute mark below.