A pair of goals from Rocco Grimaldi helped the United States defeat Sweden, 3-1, on Saturday to win the gold medal at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Ufa, Russia.
This is the third time that the United States has won this tournament (2004, 2010, 2013), and its record in gold-medal games has improved to 3-1. Earlier on Saturday, Russia defeated Canada, 6-5, in overtime to win the bronze medal.
After falling behind 1-0 at the beginning of the second period, Team USA responded with two quick goals from Grimaldi to take a 2-1 lead.
The United States defended its lead in the third period with great penalty killing and defense. Vince Trocheck added an empty-net goal late in the final period.
American goaltender John Gibson was fantastic at the WJC and made some remarkable saves after his team built a 2-1 advantage. He finished with a 5-2 record and led all goalies in GAA.
Gibson was chosen as the tournament's MVP (via TSN's Mark Masters):
MVP of WJHC as selected by media: John Gibson— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) January 5, 2013
Four American players also made the All-Star team:
WJHC all-star team as voted by media: RNH, Gaudreau, Filip Forsberg, McCabe, Trouba & Gibson— Mark Masters (@markhmasters) January 5, 2013
This was a great tournament victory for the United States because it showcased the abundance of American hockey talent at the junior and NCAA levels right now.
Take a look at some of the top American players who performed at a high level at the WJC.
|Player||Position||Team (Year Drafted, Round)||GP||G||A||P|
|John Gaudreau||LW||Calgary Flames (2011, 4th)||7||7||2 ||9 |
|Jacob Trouba||D||Winnipeg Jets (2012, 9th)||7||4 ||5 ||9 |
|Alex Galchenyuk||C||Montreal Canadiens (2012, 3rd)||7||2 ||6 ||8 |
|JT Miller||LW||New York Rangers (2011, 1st)||7||2 ||6 ||8 |
|Seth Jones||D||Eligible for 2013 Draft||7||1||6||7|
The future of American hockey is very bright after this victory, and the United States will certainly be one of the gold-medal favorites at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Even though it was unable to successfully defend its gold medal from a year ago, Sweden deserves a ton of praise for its silver-medal run.
The Swedes were without three of their best defensemen throughout the entire tournament, including 2012 first-round pick Hampus Lindholm, but still managed to defeat Finland and Russia en route to the final. Sweden has now won gold or silver in four of the last six world junior championships.
Next year's tournament will be hosted by Sweden, where the United States will attempt to defend its gold medal, which is something it has never done at the world junior championships.