IIHF UA18 Gold Medal Game Recap: Team Canada vs. Team USA | 05/05/2024

Photo Credit INTERNATIONAL ICE HOCKEY FEDERATION (IIHF)

The 2024 IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship promises an exhilarating culmination with the anticipated faceoff between the United States and Canada, marking only the third gold medal game between the two nations in the tournament’s history. Previous encounters saw the U.S. emerge victorious with a 5-1 win in 2005, and Canada claimed the title with a 3-2 triumph in 2013.

Team USA triumphed over Team Slovakia yesterday with a score of 7-2, led by an outstanding performance from James Hagens, who set a new tournament points record. Hagens, now with 22 points, achieved this feat by contributing three assists in the game, surpassing Nikita Kucherov’s record from 2011. Team Canada would get a satisfying payback of its own by beating Sweden by a score of 5-4 to land in the gold medal round. Team Canada had been defeated by Sweden 7-2 in the 2023 U18 semi-finals.

The most recent occurrence of a country winning back-to-back at the U18 Worlds was in 2015, with the U.S. claiming a memorable 2-1 overtime win against Finland to take home the gold medal. This impressive feat was led by that year’s MVP, Auston Matthews, who accumulated an outstanding 15 points, along with equally impressive contributions from teammates Matthew Tkachuk (12 points) and Clayton Keller (9 points).

Needless to say, a lot is on the line for both teams today, and each has its own set of playmakers to keep an eye on. Gavin McKenna, Maxim Masse, and Cole Beaudoin for Team Canada, and Cole Hutson, Cole Eiserman, and James Hagens lead that charge for Team USA.

Goaltenders:

TEAM USA – Nicholas Kempf

TEAM CAN – Carter George

Period 1

In the opening moments of the match, Canada signaled their intent right away when defenseman Charlie Elick tripped Teddy Stiga at center ice within the first minute. This caused some concern for the U.S. assistant captain, who briefly stayed on the ice before skating off. Following the incident, Team Canada placed Team USA on the Powerplay as Charlie Elick was penalized for tripping by the officials.

However, it would be a battle before any points were etched onto the scoreboard, as both sides seemed determined to keep the other at bay. Christian Humphreys (USA) ended the scoring drought by sliding the puck past Carter George on the deflection, with an assist from Logan Hensler, who kept the puck in play, all less than a minute before the end of the period. Team USA takes the lead over Team Canada with a score of 1-0 (19:08).

Shots on Goal:

USA – 12

CAN – 6

Period 2

The Canadians would push back in the second frame. Ryder Ritchie would get the score on the board for Team Canada (5:31), assisted by Matthew Schaeffer and Henry Mews. The score is now tied up at 1-1. Later, Paul Martone is called for high sticking and sends Team USA to the Powerplay.

However, the Americans would not sit by quietly and would once more use the man advantage to their benefit. Team USA continued to put the pressure on Team Canada with some brilliant puck work by Cole Hutson and Cole Eiserman, bringing Team USA back ahead 2-1 (8:31).

Then, undaunted Team USA strike once more after creating a scoring opportunity when they defend Gavin McKenna to open the play. Then, with a straight-up laser shot by Cole Hutson on the net, Team USA goes back up by two with a score of 3-1 (13:04). Shane Vensaghi would be credited with the assist.

However, the Canadians did not give up. Team USA put Team Canada on the Powerplay after Cole Hutson was penalized for Hooking. McKenna made a remarkable play off the left wall, scoring an electrifying backhander past Kempf, narrowing the gap to 3-2 at 15:40.

As time dwindles, Team Canada incurs another penalty for roughing by Malcolm Spence. Goalie Carter George (CAN) makes a stunning save after James Hagens (USA) nearly sneaks the puck past him.

We closed out the period with Team USA ahead of Team Canada 3-2.

Shots on Goal:

USA – 19

CAN – 5

Period 3

The Americans sent Team Canada on the Power Play when Sam Laurila was called for holding (5:55). Team Canada put Team USA on the defensive in their zone, yet the Americans managed to maintain the score unchanged.

Trevor Connelly receives a penalty for an illegal check to the head (served by Cole Eiserman) and is then ejected from the game for a Game Misconduct at 9:25. Seizing the moment, Gavin McKenna scores a Powerplay goal, leveling the game at 3-3 (10:25). Tij Ignila and Porter Martone are credited with the assists. Team Canada strikes one more, this time Cole Beaudoin makes it past Kempf and puts Canada in the lead for the first time in the game (13:40). Jett Luchanko and Ritchie are on the assist.

Canada extends its lead by scoring another goal as Tij Ingla finds the back of the net with an assist from McKenna and Henry Mews. The Canadians now lead by two goals later with only 5:41 remaining in regulation.

Back to even strength, Team USA finds their way back in the hunt when Brodie Ziemer scores one for the Americans on a redirect with an assist by E.J. Emery and Hutson (15:36). The score is now Team USA – 4, Team Canada – 5.

Kempf is pulled from the net for the extra attacker by Team USA. However, Gavin McKenna nets the sixth goal into the empty net, making it 6-4 in favor of Canada at 18:42. With the empty-netter, McKenna secured his hat trick and claimed the lead for tournament goals with 10.

Teddy Stiga receives a penalty for tripping, leading Canada to regain the Powerplay advantage momentarily, with Kempf returning to the goal for Team USA. Kempf is pulled once again for an extra player in the final seconds, but unfortunately, Team Canada emerges victorious with the gold medal, leaving Team USA to bring home the silver.

Shots on Goal:

USA – 4

CAN – 14

Game Summary

Canada has secured their fifth U18 Worlds gold medal, advancing the hockey nation ahead of host Finland, who have four gold medals. Canada’s most recent victory was in 2021, while the United States maintains the lead with a total of 11 gold medals.

Despite the loss, the Americans have secured an outstanding all-time achievement of 20 U18 Worlds medals, with 11 gold, six silver, and three bronze. Cole Eiserman has made history by breaking the USA Hockey National Team Development Program’s all-time goal-scoring record with 127 goals, surpassing Cole Caulfield.

James Hagens earned the MVP title by scoring nine goals and achieving 22 points. Hagens was recognized on the media all-star team and was honored as the best forward by the IIHF Directorate.

The other awards received following this year’s tournament are listed by the International Ice Hockey Federation as follows:

IIHF Directorate Awards
Best Goalkeeper: Carter George, Canada
Best Defender: Cole Hutson, USA
Best Forward: James Hagens, USA

Media All-Star Team & MVP
Goalkeeper: Carter George, Canada
Defender: Luka Radivojevic, Slovakia
Defender: Cole Hutson, USA
Forward: James Hagens, USA
Forward: Gavin McKenna, Canada
Forward: Porter Martone, Canada
Most Valuable Player: James Hagens, USA

Highlights of the Game:

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Karen Zehner

Credentialed Beat Writer covering the ECHL Atlanta Gladiators. Diving into the world of slap shots, penalty kills, and the game we love. [@RunwithK] on socials.

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