The 4-2 victory at Beijing’s National Indoor Stadium, the USA’s second of the competition after beating China earlier this week, was an unlikely result given the youthful makeup of the American roster, which includes 15 college players.
And 40 years ago, it was also a team largely comprised of college players that defeated the Soviet Union 4-3 to win a surprise gold.
“I guess it is a little similar with all these college guys,” said Team USA left wing Sean Farrell.
“That was a great moment in American hockey history, and we have a long way to go. But hopefully, it will be the same.”
The US currently sits top of Group A on six points and faces Germany in the final group game on Sunday.
While Canada scored first in Saturday’s game through Mat Robinson, the US hit back with goals from Andy Miele, Ben Meyers and Brendan Brisson. Corban Knight made it 3-2, but Kenny Agostino’s goal in the third period sealed the win.
“A lot of people think about physicality and size, but you can be a physical team in a lot of different ways,” said US coach David Quinn.
“We have a bunch of guys who compete, they don’t back down. [Against China] we weren’t intimidated at all, and we certainly weren’t tonight.
“When we can combine a little bit of grit and heart, and when we have hard skill, and I thought we had hard skill tonight, we can be successful.”
The US is one of four teams at the Winter Olympics to win both its opening games alongside the Russian Olympic Committee, Finland and Sweden.