Puck Daddy - NHL

It's the 4th of July here in America and it's a day to remember Uncle Sam's independence from the redcoats 234 years ago and by celebrating with baseball, hot dogs, hot dog eating competitions, hamburgers, and not blowing your hand off via fireworks.

You already know that this here site is run by three Americans - well, really four. Dmitry may be Russian, but we've brainwashed him with enough apple pie and Clint Eastwood movies that he's already switched vodkas from Stoli to SKYY. If you wouldn't mind humoring us for this one post, please join us as we celebrate the best in American puck this hockey year had to offer.

5. Cammi Granato is elected to Hockey Hall of Fame

It was only a matter of time before a woman was to be inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame and it just so happened two of the game's greatest female players will go in together. Along with Canada's Angela James, Granato, a 15-year veteran of the US women's team and two-time Olympian, joined Dino Ciccarelli in the 2010 class in the player category.

A gold medal winner at the 1998 Olympics and the all-time leading scorer in the women's program, Granato's enshrinement this November will make her the ninth American-born player in the Hall of Fame.

4. Under-18 men win second straight gold at World Championships

A gold in the U-20 World Junior Championships (more on that later) for American hero Jack Campbell wasn't enough. In April, he backstopped the USA to a second straight gold in the U-18 championships. Campbell, a Dallas Stars draft pick last weekend, made 33 saves in the gold medal game against Sweden as Team USA went 6-0-0-1 in the tournament, outscoring opponents 33-7. The victory was the fifth U-18 gold medal for Team USA since 2002 and seventh straight year they medaled.

To top it all off, in pure awesomeness, at the moment of the U-18 victory, USA Hockey held the titles at each level of amateur hockey: World Juniors (U-20's), U-18's, U-17 Hockey Challenge, and World Junior A.

3. America rules at the 2010 NHL Draft

Besides the fact that 59 of Uncle Sam's best young hockey players were taken during the Draft, the first round saw a record 11 Americans selected and 10 more were taken in round two. It's a clear sign that the US development programs are working on the junior level and hopefully will challenge the hockey factories across Canada.

2. Zach Parise(notes) forces overtime in gold medal game

Yeah, I know, we could have went with USA's win over Canada in the round robin portion of the Olympic tournament or even Ryan Kesler's gutsy effort for an empty-net tally to put the game out of reach, but Parise's goal with 24 seconds remaining in the rematch against Canada sent American hockey fans, and hell, Americans in general into a frenzy for at least a little while. We all know what happened in overtime, but Parise's goal and Team USA's youthful exuberance during the celebration was what made that team so damn likeable and made their unexpected run to a silver medal even that much more enjoyable to watch.

1. John Carlson's(notes) goal dethrones Canada as World Junior champs

Five straight years the Canadians had walked away from the World Junior tournament with gold. The last time they didn't was 2004 when Team USA defeated them in Helsinki for their first gold medal in the annual competition.

As usual, Canada was dominating the field en route to the gold medal game and had even defeated the Team USA on New Year's Eve in a shootout at the end of the preliminary round. Entering the gold medal game, all the talk was about the Canadian junior dynasty and Don Cherry talking about good ole Canadian boys, yadda, yadda, yadda.

In what turned out to be an epic title game, the Canadians rallied behind two goals from Jordan Eberle(notes) in the final three minutes to force overtime. The crowd in Saskatoon was going berserk and deciding amongst themselves which of their boys would be the hero to bring Canada their sixth straight gold ...

That's when American hero John Carlson drop-kicked momentum right in the face by stepping up and making himself a spot in USA Hockey lore with this:

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