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VIRG FOSS: USA goes for the gold

Virg Foss portrait

Just about the time many of you opened your morning Grand Forks Herald today, the U.S. and Sweden were dropping the puck in Russia to determine the 2013 World Junior Hockey Champion.

So for you early risers, grab a cup of coffee and if you get the NHL Network on your TV, tune in the game at 7 a.m. and enjoy.

I don't have to study the rosters of the teams or look at tournament results to date to tell you who should win.

History tells me it'll be the good ol' USA.


Every gold medal won by the U.S. in hockey -- in the Olympic Games or the World Junior -- has had at least one player, coach or father of a future gold medalist from UND connected to it.

And this year, UND rookie Rocco Grimaldi is skating for the U.S., a good omen indeed.

In 2004, the U.S. won its first gold in World Juniors in Finland. That team included Zach Parise, Drew Stafford and Brady Murray from UND and still proudly at that time the Fighting Sioux.

Parise tied for the tournament scoring title and was named tourney MVP. Parise and Stafford are NHL stars and Murray had a brief stint in the big leagues.

As an aside, one of the treasured items I have is a puck from the tournament autographed by Parise, Stafford and Murray in gold ink.

In 2010, the U.S. won its second World Junior gold with current UND senior Danny Kristo a key member of the team and Dean Blais, ex-UND coach, in charge.

Both years, the U.S. beat Canada in the gold-medal game. This year, tourney favorite Canada fell to the U.S. in the semifinals.

Those are the only golds won by the U.S. in World Juniors.

It's a similar story in Winter Olympic hockey.

The Miracle On Ice team of 1980, the one that pulled the greatest upset in the history of sports by beating world power Russia, featured UND's Dave Christian.

Christian was moved from forward to defense for the Olympics by coach Herb Brooks. He often cited the play of Christian on defense as instrumental in the gold medal run.

It's a bit of a stretch, I know, to get back to UND's other connection to an Olympic gold.

In 1960, the U.S. struck gold in Squaw Valley, Calif. One of the stars of that team was one of two Christian brothers from Warroad, Minn., Bill Christian.

Bill Christian was the father of David, hence the thinnest of connections to UND. Billy did not play at UND, of course. But David was born in 1959, about eight months before his father was on the medal-winning team.

So the formula for winning gold in hockey for the U.S. seems simple -- be sure someone with a UND connection is involved.

I've got a brilliant idea for the next Olympics. I've written about UND hockey closing in on half a century now. My connection to the school is established.

I'm retired, I own a laptop and I'm free to travel.

All USA Hockey has to do is hire me to write features for the web site during the next Winter Olympics and a gold medal is assured for the Red, White and Blue.

I'll be checking the mail for the letter of invitation.

Virg Foss reported on sports for the Grand Forks Herald for 36 years until his retirement. He writes a weekly column exclusively for the Herald from October through April. Contact him at or (701) 772-9272.