U.S. settles for U18 Worlds bronze with 5-2 win over Canada
Devastated by its loss in the semifinals, Team USA regrouped to win the bronze medal at the 2019 IIHF World Championship by beating Canada 5-2.
It’s not another gold medal, but it is another consecutive medal.
The United States settled for the bronze medal at the 2019 International Ice Hockey Federation U18 World Championship in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden, with a 5-2 win over Canada on Sunday.
It is the 16th consecutive medal for the U.S. in the event. But the squad’s goal in the tournament was Team USA’s eighth gold medal in 11 years. Seven of the previous 10 will have to suffice.
"It's just a really special group," said U.S. captain Jack Hughes, who had a goal and two assists, on the IIHF website. "It sucks we didn't end up with gold. I still think we're the best team in this tournament. I think a lot of other people think that. To come out here, it's kind of a gut check. That kind of shows our character, shows how good we are. To come out here and beat the Canadians like that, it was a lot of fun to win our last game like that."
The United States lost the chance for the gold in Saturday’s 3-2 shootout loss to Russia in the semifinal round.
"I'm trying to hold the emotions together,” said U.S. coach John Wroblewski. “What happened at this tournament, it's a slight blemish, but it's not going to define this group. I can't wait to see what they all do in the future."
Sweden won the gold medal with a 4-3 overtime victory over Russia on Sunday.
Canada lost 4-3 to Sweden in the other semifinal on Saturday.
There were records aplenty for Hughes, who is expected to be the first player picked in the NHL draft in, and teammate Cole Caufield.
Both surpassed Phil Kessel’s previous U.S. record of 16 points in a single U18 World championship tournament, which Kessel set in 2005. Hughes is the new record holder with 20 points (nine goals and 11 assists), while Caufield had 18 (14 goals and four assists).
Hughes fell one point short of Nikita Kucherov’s single-tournament point record of 21 (2011).
"This is a pretty cool tournament, pretty cool event. I'm lucky to be able to participate in it twice,” Hughes said. “It's been two pretty good runs. It's really cool to be on top of that ranking."
Hughes broke the U.S. record for career points earlier in the tournament.
He said he is not sure whether he will play for Team USA, alongside his brother Quinn, a defenseman, in the IIHF World Championship next month in Slovakia.
"I have no clue right now. I don't know. We'll see what happens. I've got to collect my thoughts in the next couple of days,” he said. “There's been some discussions, but my goal and USA Hockey's goal was for me to focus on this tournament, try to bring some hardware home, and then we'll refocus on something else."
Caufield’s 14 goals ties Ovechkin’s record for most goals in a tournament. That total is five more than the previous U.S. record and Caufield’s 18 career U18 Worlds goals is also a new United States record.
"Obviously, you can't do it without your team behind you," Caufield said. "I think our whole team contributed and played well the entire tournament.”
Cam York had two goals and an assist, and Bobby Brink and Alex Turcotte also scored for Team USA on Sunday. Spencer Knight made 21 saves.
The U.S. players were devastated after Saturday’s semifinal loss.
"Those kids' hearts are carved up into hundreds of pieces right now," Wroblewski said after the game on Saturday. "To be in that locker room was very difficult after I've seen them grow up from boys into strong young men."
Caufield scored both U.S. goals on Saturday, early in the third period, while Hughes had an assist and hit the crossbar twice in overtime.