Jamie Benn was left off Canada's orientation roster in the months leading up to the Olympic Games. But Benn's stellar start to the NHL season for the Dallas Stars solidified him as one of 14 forwards the Canadians would bring to Sochi to defend their 2010 gold medal.
And all Benn has done since has made the Hockey Canada brass look even smarter.
In a rematch of that 2010 gold medal game for the right to play in this year's, Canada defeated the United States 1-0 in a battle of hockey rivals, with Benn and Carey Price closing the door on the United States' hopes of winning a gold medal.
Both goalies were outstanding all game long, while Canada got the majority of quality scoring chances. The United States was outshot 37-31, but the Canadians kept the majority of those American shots to the outside.
Through 20 minutes though, nothing was decided, as a back-and-forth first period played scoreless. It also turned into a chess match, as Dan Bylsma matched his grinding line of David Backes, Dustin Brown and Ryan Callahan against Canada's top unit let by Sidney Crosby along with Chris Kunitz and Patrice Bergeron.
The Canadians would break through for the game's only goal just over 100 seconds into the second period. After the United States iced the puck, Ryan Getzlaf won an offensive zone faceoff. The puck got worked back to Jay Bouwmeester, who fired a shot that Benn deflected past Jonathan Quick to give Canada a 1-0 edge.
The United States did muster plenty of opportunities to tie it, but Price was locked in all game for Canada. He stopped a Zach Parise deflection on a power play in the middle frame on a toe save on a nicely worked play off the wall from Patrick Kane. A late bid by Max Pacioretty in the third was also turned aside. And he stood tall in net in the waning moments to deny the Americans with six skaters on and an empty net.
The United States' best chance may have come midway through the second, when a jam play at the side of the net by Pacioretty beat Price through his legs, but slid through the crease and just wide of the post.
Quick was equally good throughout, as he turned aside every shot he faced after the Benn goal to keep the deficit at one. He stopped Benn later after a Brooks Orpik turnover gave Canada the puck deep in the United States end. Quick went post-to-post, lunging through his crease to stymy Benn's bid for a second goal.
The United States was unable to generate consistent scoring chances from the danger areas of the ice, and couldn't find an equalizer through its sporadic flurries of pressure.
Canada advances to the gold medal game to play Sweden on Sunday, while the United States will play Finland for bronze on Saturday.