BRNO – USA Hockey is going to have to clear out some more room in the U18 trophy case. The Americans romped over Sweden Sunday evening 7-0, winning their fourth straight world championship and seventh overall to further cement the States’ dominance at the U18 level.
Mental mistakes for Sweden in the second period led to three key goals for the Americans and buried the Swedes’ gold medal chances.
While Sweden opened the frame with good pressure on U.S. goaltender Collin Olson, one bad giveaway in their own zone led to a breakaway goal from Daniel O’Regan to make it 2-0.
Five minutes later, Nicolas Kerdiles sent a pass to JT Compher at centre ice, triggering a two-on-one for the States. Compher kept the puck and shot it under the arm of Swedish goaltender Oscar Dansk for the 3-0 lead. The goal prompted Sweden’s coach Rikard Gronborg to pull Dansk in favour of backup goaltender Marcus Hogberg.
While the Swedes committed costly mistakes in their own end, the Americans remained steady in their defensive zone and opportunistic on offence. With the score 3-0 and three minutes remaining in the second period, Sweden had a chance to shift the momentum when U.S. defenceman Brady Skej was called for holding. But their power play lasted a total of four seconds, as Jacob de la Rose was caught on a tripping call to eliminate Sweden’s advantage.
On the ensuing four-on-four, Swedish defenceman Christian Djoos crossed his own blue line, but inexplicably passed it back to the middle of the ice. No one was there to pick it up for Sweden, and Kerdiles jumped on the put and beat Hogberg with a forehand deke to give the U.S. a commanding 4-1 lead.
Ryan Hartman, Connor Carrick, and Kerdiles each added following the second intermission to complete the 7-0 rout, and the U.S. coasted the rest of the way until the final whistle that gave the team its fourth straight IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship gold medal.
Both teams came out fast and furious in the opening period, with end-to-end action and quick transitions throughout the frame. Sweden looked to take advantage of two penalties by the U.S., but on the second power play defenceman Calle Andersson took a shot from the point by was blocked by the US point man. The puck came out of the zone just as Ryan Hartman came out of the penalty box. Hartman was initially stopped by Dansk, but the Swedish goaltender could not get a handle on the rebound, and with two U.S. players jamming at it the puck was accidentally kicked in by a teammate and slipped past Dansk and into the net for the first goal of the game, with the credit going to Thomas DiPauli.
As the clock wound down to zero, the Americans mobbed goaltender Collin Olson to celebrate their gold medal victory. Olson was chosen as the Best Goaltender by the tournament directorate, while Swedish captain Filip Forsberg was selected as top forward and Canada’s Matt Dumba as top defenceman.
(Nathan can be reached at email@example.com)