PIESTANY, Slovakia — Needing to defeat Russia by two goals to win its first-ever gold medal, the U.S. National Under-18 Team got a goal with 58 seconds remaining from North Dakota-bound Zach Parise, giving it a 3-1 victory and the World Under-18 championship.
“In order to win any championship, you need to have everyone on the team contribute at one time or another, and that certainly happened throughout this championship,” Team USA head coach Mike Eaves said after the game. Eaves is set to leave the program, having recently accepted the job as head coach at Wisconsin. “Everyone did their part and all of the parts came together. Because of that we were able to win the gold medal.”
The U.S. (7-1-0) clung to a two-goal lead for much of the game. David Booth was the offensive force of the first period, netting two goals and giving the U.S. the early momentum. Booth scored 2:43 into the game, and added his second goal, an unassisted effort, at the 17:17 mark after intercepting the puck in front of the net and snapping it in.
Team USA held Russia scoreless until the 14:46 mark of the third period when Russia scored on the power play off of a deflected shot, making it 2-1. The U.S. regained its two-goal lead and claimed the gold medal with a power-play goal. Ryan Suter brought the puck into the Russia zone along the boards and dished it off to Parise. Parise skated the puck in and flipped a wrist shot in with 58 seconds remaining in the game.
James Howard was in net for his fifth win of the tournament and made 32 saves.
The win marks several firsts for the U.S. National Under-18 Team. It is the first-ever medal of any kind at the World Under-18 Championship and is the best-ever record for Team USA at the World Under-18 Championship.
The Russians finished the championship in second place and the Czech Republic finished in third. All three teams finished the medal round with eight points, but Team USA claimed the gold medal based on goals-for and goals-against versus the Czechs and Russians. Team Germany, Ukraine and Norway are all relegated the second division for next year’s championship.