Monday, April 23, 2012
The International Ice Hockey Federation's U18 World Championship completed an 11-day run in the Czech Republic Sunday afternoon when the United States squelched Sweden 7-0, earning America's fourth straight gold medal in the event.
Nicolas Kerdiles netted two goals and three assists to boost the Stars & Stripes attack, but goal prevention was what powered Team USA to the crown. Anchored by Collin Olson in goal, the United States allowed just four goals in six games while shutting out the Czechs, Danes and Swedes; only Canada found a way to score on their regional rivals, who went 6-0-0 in the tournament.
Defenseman (and top 2013 NHL Draft prospect) Seth Jones picked up eight points (3g, 5a) and a plus-9 rating in the tournament, while Matthew Lane added three goals and four assists from the forward position. Olson finished the U18 Worlds with a 5-0-0 record, three shutouts and a stifling .965 save percentage.
Lumberjacks fans will recognize many if not all of these names, as they competed for the National Team Development Program this season in the USHL. Most of them skated against Muskegon over the course of the last two campaigns.
Of course, while the Jacks were trying to beat the National Team in the Eastern Conference standings, we can be gracious enough to forget that rivalry for a bit and offer congratulations to Team USA for its impressive showing overseas. America's standing in the hockey world continues to rise and every effort like this one bolsters it further!
Unfortunately, the Czechs' goal of making the medal round on native ground wasn't fulfilled, as they went 1-3-0 in Group A, which included the U.S., Canada and Finland. However, they avoided demotion to a lower division when they went 2-1-0 in the relegation round, beating Latvia and Denmark, the latter of which they also topped earlier in the tournament.
Lastly today, all four second-round Clark Cup postseason series are through two games, and three are knotted up as they switch venues to the home of the lower-seeded team.
Out in the Western Conference, Waterloo struck back after Omaha grabbed Game 1 at home, sending their best-of-five series to Young Arena for Friday's Game 3. Fargo won its first game against Lincoln in OT, but the Stars, who won the regular-season West title, squeezed out a one-goal decision before the match-up heads to North Dakota Wednesday night.
Back in the East things are quite surprising. Even though Dubuque lost its captain Zemgus Girgensons to a broken jaw in its first-round win over the National Under-17 Team, the Fighting Saints figured to have enough depth to make a serious run at a second consecutive Clark Cup. But Indiana, paced by Daniil Tarasov's six points, outgunned usually-stingy Dubuque 11-5 in the first two games at Pepsi Coliseum. The series resumes Wednesday at Mystique Ice Center with the defending champs on the edge of elimination.
Meanwhile, the USHL's 2011-12 juggernaut finds itself in a serious battle. The Green Bay Gamblers, after a resounding 7-1 triumph to open their presumed deep playoff run, stumbled Sunday afternoon at the Resch Center when Youngstown used three power play goals to prevail 5-3. The runaway Anderson Cup champs must now win at least one game in northeast Ohio to stay alive; Games 3 and 4 are scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday night at the Covelli Centre.
Stay up-to-date with the USHL's postseason at USHL.com and through Pointstreak.com's useful Clark Cup bracket!