Sweden – United States (0-1, 0-3, 0-3)
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. The United States defence shut down the potent Swedish offence through three periods, in the process setting an IIHF U18 world championship record of only four goals allowed throughout the entire tournament.
“Things turned for us in the second period," said USA coach Danton Cole. "We were able to get a good forecheck going and forced them into making a few mistakes that we were able to capitalize on and I think that turned the game for us. I though our guys did a great job, they played hard and skated very physical.”
While Sweden opened the frame with good pressure on 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 puck and beat Hogberg with a forehand deke to give the U.S. a commanding 4-1 lead.
"The guys tried to do a little bit too much in the second and the other team took advantage of that," said Gronborg. "The U.S. played a perfect game, they scored on the opportunities that they had and it was the difference.”
Ryan Hartman, Connor Carrick, and Kerdiles each added a goal following the second intermission to complete the 7-0 rout, and the U.S. coasted the rest of the way until the final whistle gave the team its fourth straight IIHF Ice Hockey U18 World Championship gold medal and record tenth medal in the tournament. The margin of victory is the second highest in the U18 gold medal game after Canada's 8-0 win over Russia in 2008, and gives further testament to the success of the U.S. National Team Development Program.
“Yeah it is,” said USA captain Seth Jones when asked if this year’s win was sweeter than when he won the gold in 2011. “I’ve been with this group of guys for two years and it’s incredible to win this one. At the National Team Development Program we focus on strength building and physical development and I can’t tell you how far I’ve come personally through the program and how far the team has come through this program.”
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 in the third, the Americans mobbed 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.
Olson recorded his third shutout of the tournament, tying Jack Campbell's record set in 2010.
“It started with the goaltending,” said USA captain Seth Jones. “Olson and Rutledge were outstanding, allowing four goals total in the whole tournament, that’s unheard of. They really set the tempo and the defence came behind them.”Click here for photos, scores, and stats.