The U.S. National Under-18 Team topped Canada, 5-1, to win the gold medal at the 2005 International Ice Hockey Federation World Under-18 Championship in front of 4,169 fans at the Plzen Arena tonight.
Jeff Frazee made 48 saves in net for Team USA, while Phil Kessel recorded four points (2-2) to lead the United States to its third medal in four years, including second gold (2002).
Jason Lawrence netted two goals for Team USA, in addition to a goal and an assist from Nathan Gerbe and two assists from Benn Ferriero as the United States remained undefeated in the tournament (6-0-0) and in international
play this year (15-0-0).
“It was an extremely hard fought game and we didn’t give up until the last buzzer,” said U.S. defenseman Jack Johnson. “We had the confidence that our team would prevail and we all believed in each other. It’s unbelievable to feel the payoff of two years of hard work.”
“The win is great for our program and for USA Hockey,” said U.S. coach Ron Rolston. “Any time you play a Canadian hockey team, you definitely have to bring your best to the table and fortunately that was the case for us tonight. I thought our kids battled hard and did a good job in the victory.”
For the fourth time in the tournament, Kessel opened the scoring in the first period when he got the puck from Gerbe and skated it up the slot. Despite having a Canadian on either side, Kessel beat Carey Price low on his stick side for the 1-0 U.S. lead.
With Jones in the box for cross-checking, Ryan O’Marra put Team Canada on the board when he dumped in a rebound at 11:41. The United States responded with a power-play goal of its own from Lawrence to regain the lead at 16:19. Although the Americans were outshot 22-7 in the first 20 minutes, they came out with a 2-1 lead going into the second period.
Team USA increased its lead to two goals in the middle period with another power-play goal from Lawrence when he deflected a Peter Mueller shot past Price at 15:49.
Gerbe insured the U.S. win in the final frame with his fourth goal of the tournament. Kessel fed him a pass from behind the net and Gerbe put it in the top left corner at 6:21. Team USA held on to its convincing 4-1 lead despite the Canadians having a five-minute power play after Justin Mercier received a match penalty. Kessel tallied an empty-net goal at 19:18 to seal the gold medal for the United States.
Frazee’s 48 saves brought his tournament best goals against average to 1.33 and save percentage to .959.
“It’s definitely bittersweet,” said U.S. captain Jimmy Fraser. “I’m going to miss all of these guys, hopefully we’ll stay in close contact in college. Just the fact that this might be the last time that we all wear the USA jersey together is definitely sad.”
NOTES: Kessel earned the IIHF Directorate Award as the most outstanding forward with a tournament best 16 points (9-7) in six games. … Gerbe finished second in the tournament in scoring with eight points (4-4) and Mueller was fifth with seven points (4-3). … Kessel has recorded at least a point in each of Team USA’s last 10 games (14-14-28). … With his 52nd goal, Kessel equaled his NTDP leading total from 2003-04. … Team USA has only lost once in its last 12 World Under-18 Championship games. … The United States only allowed three power-play goals on 45 opportunities throughout the tournament.