The U.S. Under-18 Team won their third straight gold medal at the World Men’s U18 Championship, but it did not come easy at this year’s tournament held in Germany. The boys in red, white and blue had to rally from being down 3-1 to Sweden in the third period to send the gold medal game to overtime. The game tying goal came at 1:29 left in regulation, with Reid Boucher netting his 8th goal of the tournament. Once overtime got underway, US forward Rocco Grimaldi drew a penalty and the US squad was granted a golden opportunity. As the powerplay dwindled away, USA defensemen Connor Murphy found the puck on his stick in the left circle. Murphy’s first chance was blocked by a Swedish player, however the puck found its way back to him and he made no mistake burying the second opportunity high off the crossbar and in for the gold medal game-winner. The 2011 Gold Medal is the sixth gold medal in tournament history for Team USA (2002, 2005, 2006, 2009, 2010 & 2011).
The night before, the U.S. men had to fight off a relentless Canadian team that came back from three goals down in the third period to send the semifinal game to overtime. I give the American team credit for not folding under the pressure after surrendering such a large lead in the final frame and mentally preparing themselves for the OT thriller that followed. It’s always easy to fold when the chips are down, but USA fought off a number of Canadian scoring opportunities until just over 4 minutes into the overtime frame when Tyler Biggs collected the loose puck and rushed up the right side of the ice and buried a goal far side on Canadian goaltender Malcolm Subban. After the joy and celebration, the close win verse Canada prompted USA Coach Ron Rolston to say, “We are fortunate to have held on for the win against such a good Canadian team”.
Final Tournament Rankings:
- Czech Republic
Other Tournament News:
Top Players Selected: U.S. goalie John Gibson was selected as Best Goaltender of the tournament, along with Canada’s Ryan Murphy (Best Defensemen) and Russia’s Nikita Kucherov (Best Forward).
Russia’s Nikita Kucherov led the 2011 tournament in scoring by posting 11 goals, 10 assists, for 21 points in only 7 games played. In fact, the Top 3 scorers in the tournament were Russian (Kucherov 21 pts, Grigorenko 18 pts, Yakupov 13 pts).
USA’s scoring leaders for the tournament: JT Miller 6 GP, 4 G, 9 A, 13 PTS; Reid Boucher 6 GP, 8 G, 2 A, 10 PTS; Rocco Grimaldi 6 GP, 2 G, 6 A, 8 PTS.