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World junior championship: Team USA’s John Gibson having a goaltending performance for the ages

Gibson has a 1.42 average in the tournament (ITAR-TASS)

While Canada lies up at night wondering when it will have a puck-stopper who provides peace of mind in a major international part, Team USA's John Gibson looks like he could being doing it on a bigger stage in a decade's time.

Being a show-stopper in goal at the world junior championship has not always been indicator of next-level stardom. See Pogge, Justin or Montoya, Al. It bears pointing out that Gibson — cue to imagined awkwardness of him bringing a gold medal with him back to the Kitchener Rangers, where his colleagues include Canada coach Steve Spott and defenceman Ryan Murphy — has been beyond exceptional.

It's hard to imagine upset Canadians getting all philosophical with the "well, there's no shame in being beaten by the best." A 5-1 faceplant of a semifinal loss will not digest easily no matter how much you tell people a one-off winner-take-all game between teams of teenagers is fraught with the potential to go madly off in all directions. These young men are a ways away from being mature pros, which evidently extends to Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, he of the 189-second shift.

[Related: The leave Malcolm Subban alone post;
it was Team Canada’s ‘collective failure,’ people]

Remember, just a year ago a then 18-year-old Gibson started the U.S. unravelling in Edmonton, Alta. by struggling in a loss to Finland that portended a plummet to the relegation round. On Thursday, he was masterful. This is, without a doubt, the best goaltending Team USA has ever had at the tournament. It should also mark the second consecutive year an OHL goalie without a Canadian passport is selected top goaltender, with Gibson following on the heels of Detroit Red Wings prospect Petr Mrazek copping the honour with the Czech Republic in 2012.

Team USA's active defence helped it build a 2-0 lead. Gibson stood up and was counted for when Canada, albeit very briefly, made some noises about getting into the game. He stymied centre Ryan Strome — by far the best Ryan in red and white on this day — on a walk-in chance in the second period.

Late in the frame, he kept Canada from cutting into the 4-0 U.S. lead with a fast-reaction glove save on Brett Ritchie.

Canada's only goal was freaky. Ty Rattie hit the crossbar squarely and a referee blew his whistle while Rattie was retrieving the puck and firing it into the goal.

That weird play hardly affected Gibson. He faced down a power play later in the third period when Canada was mounting a much-too-little, much-too-late comeback.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @neatebuzzthenet. Please address any questions, comments or concerns to btnblog@yahoo.ca (videos: TSN).

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