North America amazes in one thrilling minute

8:54 PM ET

TORONTO — One of the fastest minutes in hockey history starts with Connor McDavid picking up the puck in his own zone, maybe 15 feet behind his blue line, 17 seconds into the first period. Freeze him in that moment, and he is hockey and youth and everything they might become: already in full stride, head up, brimming with possibility.

He narrows the ice between his right skate and the boards in front of Team North America’s bench and leaves Sweden’s iconic Daniel Sedin, closing in from center ice, an ocean behind.

“Had a lot of speed,” McDavid says.

Two seconds after he first touched the puck, the 19-year-old blurs past Henrik Sedin, who waves his stick in McDavid’s general direction like an old man trying to push a cat away with a broom.

“It’s tough when you’re standing still, and the guy comes 200 miles per hour at you,” Sedin says.

“I just tried to get to the middle as fast as I could,” McDavid says.

One second later, McDavid splits Anton Stralman and Victor Hedman, arguably the best defensive pairing in the world. “Was fortunate to kind of break through there,” he says. He fights to keep his balance and does. Four seconds after his first touch, having skated over four Swedes and about 140 feet of ice, he nearly beats Henrik Lundqvist through his pads.

“A good play,” he says. “I guess.”

Auston Matthews, who just turned 19, picks up the rebound. He stick handles while on his knees before finding his blades and sliding the puck across to Morgan Rielly, 22. Lundqvist stops Rielly’s slap shot with his right pad, but the puck goes straight to Matthews, his stick waiting on the ice.

He tucks the puck inside the wide-open net.

“A good start,” Matthews says.

Thirty seconds into the game, Team North America celebrates, with the normally reserved Matthews pumping both his fists. The song the players asked to hear after every one of their goals, Chiddy Bang’s “Opposite of Adults,” rips out of the Air Canada Centre’s loudspeakers.

It is the perfect song, defiant and joyous.

Tell Mommy I’m sorry / This life is a party / I’m never growing up.

Fans are still settling into their seats when the play restarts. The Swedes get the puck into the North American zone, but the kids, like life, come at them fast. Seth Jones, 21, sweeps a backhanded pass straight up the middle to a streaking Johnny Gaudreau, one of his team’s elder statesmen at 23. He has a step on Erik Karlsson, who has to reach his left arm around Gaudreau to prevent the clean breakaway.

Fifty-six seconds into the game: penalty shot.

Gaudreau makes a slow approach to the net, with Lundqvist cutting off the angle. Gaudreau shoots it high and wide. Experience defuses the rush, but the respite is brief.

Off the ensuing faceoff, Oliver Ekman-Larsson has the puck in his own zone. He is set upon by a pair of forechecking North Americans, first Vincent Trocheck, 23, and next Jonathan Drouin, 21. Trocheck steals the puck and slips it to 19-year-old Jack Eichel, who is alone in the middle.

It has been exactly one minute since McDavid scored.

Eichel flicks the puck back to Shayne Gostisbehere, 23, who looks as though he’s winding up for a vicious slap shot. Instead, he smacks the puck back to Trocheck, a stirring, rare combination of force and deception.

Trocheck stick handles once, comes across the front of the Swedish goal and backhands the puck past a sprawling Lundqvist: 2-0.

“Unbelievable,” Sedin says.

“We’ve turned some heads,” McDavid says.

Thirty-nine seconds after Gaudreau’s penalty shot, 65 seconds after Matthews’ goal, one minute and 35 seconds after the opening whistle, “Opposite of Adults” shakes the building for the second time. The happiest kind of electricity runs through the place. It has been a long time since hockey has felt so hopeful.

Hey yo, I was once a kid with the other little kids / Now I’m ripping up shows, and them fans going wild with us / Tell Mommy I’m sorry / This life is a party.

Please don’t ever grow up.



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