The Canada-USA hockey rivalry runs deep, and any matchup between the two countries always includes some added noise rom both sides. The World's Juniors was no different, as Canada and USA found themselves battling on the ice for gold. The United States shutout Canada, winning 2-0, to secure the gold on Tuesday night.
Following USA's win, it seemed the chirps were not over. During the post-game celebrations, the team took a photo with what appeared to be a trash can with Canada's logo on it
Immediately, people took to Twitter to question and criticize the move, but Team USA says there's a story behind it, and they meant no disrespect.
USA forward Trevor Zegras explained it all after the win, via USA Today:
"We pretty much had a barrel for each team we were playing. Each game we just wanted to get to the next barrel. Today was our last barrel. We threw the Canada sign up there, brought it on the ice and took our picture. It was kind of our thing this tournament ... [it represents] getting to the next barrel, not looking too far ahead, only looking to that next game, that next opponent and don't overlook that team."
Team USA head coach Nate Leaman added that the team took a selfie with the barrel after every win.
Just to be transparent. It was barrel on the ice with our team after the game. It was motivation for our team to take the tournament one game at a time. I am sure every team had something of motivation. The barrel was ours. No disrespect to Canada who is a great team.— Nate Leaman (@CoachLeaman) January 6, 2021
Leaman also explained the meaning of the barrel and how he thought of the idea to share it with the team. It all dates back to 14 years ago.
"It's a story that when I was an assistant coach in 2007, that [head coach] Ron Rolston brought to our team," he said. "About crossing the heart of the Sahara Desert, crossing a terrain that's 500 miles long, that over 1,300 people had perished and the only way that they could figure to cross this part of the Sahara Desert was to put barrels out so that when you got to one barrel, the only thing you could see was the next barrel on the horizon."
He told reporters his approach was to not have their eye on the gold medal for the tournament, and to just talk about "going one barrel at a time."
With the win on Tuesday night, Team USA has now won five World Junior Championship gold medals.