They call him "Johnny Hockey" in Chestnut Hill. You can't go very far on Boston College's campus without hearing about John Gaudreau, the slippery sniper with the smooth hands. But in the first three games of the World Juniors, it was more likely you'd hear about him on the side of a milk carton than on the scoresheet.
In what became a must-win game against Slovakia after consecutive 2-1 losses to Canada and Russia, Gaudreau showed up in a big way. After being part snakebitten and part overpowered in the previous two games, the 5'8" Calgary Flames draft choice had three points through two periods as the Americans routed Slovakia, 9-3.
Getting Gaudreau going is an essential part of the Americans offense. No United States forward had scored since the 7-0 rout of Germany to open the tournament, and confidence was waning. Consider this: half of the Americans offensive production has come from the blue line. Prior to this game, Alex Galchenyuk was the only forward with more than three points.
This team was starving for goals. Looking ahead to the medal round, if Gaudreau, Jim Vesey and JT Miller can stay hot, the depth of the US forward group will no longer be an issue.
Accolades have followed him everywhere he went. In the USHL, he won the Rookie of the Year award as he helped Dubuque to the Clark Cup championship. As a freshman at Boston College, he won the Beanpot MVP, was named to the All-Hockey East team, and scored a pretty snazzy goal to seal the National Championship game. His pure ability has never been in question.
But finally faced with some adversity--and some defensemen that could handle his shifty moves-- it was unclear how Gaudreau would respond. Now, it seems Johnny Hockey may have finally arrived in Ufa.