The best under-16 hockey players from North America took to the ice in Norway for the Youth Olympic gold medal game on Sunday, with the United States taking down Team Canada by a score of 5-2 to win the title.
Canada seemed hopeful heading into the tournament, with the team taking the 4-2 victory over the States in a previous matchup on Tuesday. With future CHL hockey stars Ryan Merkley, Benoit-Olivier Groulx and Allan McShane all having strong tournaments, the team had high expectations in their bid to improve on their bronze medal from 2012 after beating the Americans 7-5.
Unfortunately for the team in red, the team in blue and white came ready to play. At exactly eight minutes into the first period, Jack Deboer took advantage of a poor pass by a Canadian defender and found TJ Walsh wide open in front. Walsh, a Boston College commit with potential to be a top prospect in the 2018 NHL Draft, beat Alexis Gravel easily with a quick goal, giving the Americans the only goal of the first period.
Deboer himself would find the back of the net for the second goal. While on the power play, Deboer stood all alone in front and turned a Jacob Pivinko feed into the second American goal after just two minutes of play in the second frame.
With six minutes left in the middle frame, potential first overall pick in the OHL Draft Ryan Merkley took a shot that Drew Deridder could not handle. Canada would get their own power play goal, with Carson Focht’s pass making it on to Merkley’s stick and into the back of the net.
With 3:35 left on the clock in the second, Christian Krigier was able to get the puck at the left circle and beat Gravis with a fast shot to give the Americans the 3-1 lead heading into the third period.
Canada made a goalie switch in hopes of spicing up their team in the third, putting Olivier Rodrigue in the net for the final 15 minutes. It did give Canada a bit of spruce in their step, with a top shelf snipe by Allan McShane with four minutes left in the game put Canada within a goal. Tyler Weiss and Jake Wise decided to end any of Canada’s comeback hopes in the final minute, giving the Americans the 5-2 lead and the eventual win following a short flurry of chances by Canada.
After failing to grab the bronze medal back in 2012 in Austria, the Americans become just the second champions ever at the Youth Olympics after Finland beat Russia 2-1 for the inaugural championship. The Russians got the last laugh in the bronze medal game this year, easily topping Finland 6-2 after a strong tournament for the other red, white and blue team in the tournament.
Future Boston University teammates Jake Wise (10 points) and Tyler Weiss (9) were the two biggest stars at the tournament, dominating the tournament offensively for the Americans. Both should be long term hockey stars, but will have to wait until the 2018 NHL Draft before taking their game to the pro level.
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