USA beat Sweden 3-1 to take the gold medal at the World Junior Championship held at Ufa, Russia. Team USA got two goals, one of which proved to be the winner, from Rossmoor, California native Rocco Grimaldi.
After a scoreless first, Sweden took the lead when a bouncing puck eluded USA defender Seth Jones. Filip Forsberg picked up the gift in the center slot, that high percentage shooting area between the hash marks and wristed one over Anaheim Ducks prospect John Gibson.
The lead was short-lived when Grimaldi won a battle behind Sweden’s net, swung out to the left-wing side and fired from between the low face circle and the red line. Swedish goaltender misplayed the shot, failed to cover the short side, as the biscuit hit the shaft of goalie Nicklas Lundstrom’s and landed just inches over the red line.
(Note: This might be a tad hard on Lundstrom as today’s goalies seem to play the pass and give up the short side. It looks like a mistake because in my day goalies were taught to hug that post and never give up the short side goal. It would be helpful to hear from today’s goaltenders on this question.)
Grimaldi scored the winner when he won another physical battle in front of the net and deflected a Jake Trouba blast in for the winner. Who says little guys can’t play hockey? This is Grimaldi’s second gold at the WJC Tournament. He was also an integral part of the U-18 squad in 2010, scoring two goals and snagging 8 helpers.
Ducks goaltending prospect John Gibson earned tourney MVP honors. D-man Seth Jones had been the media favorite but Gibson was stellar throughout the tourney. He was also named Best Goaltender by the IIHF Directorate.
It was a hard-fought battle that wasn’t decided until 19:44 in the third when Vince Trocheck scored an empty netter on a break away. If you catch the replay, that’s another Duck’s prospect, Rickard Rakell tossing his stick at Trocheck in a cheap and chippy attempt to prevent the goal.
Ducks were also represented by William Karlsson who had two assists in six games for Team Sweden.
A well deserved madprops at Team USA, that has taken gold for the second time in four years. USA wins are no longer a “miracle on ice” as USA solidified its spot among wold class hockey powers since the mid-90’s. It is no coincidence that USA’s rise as a world-class hockey power coincided with Wayne Gretzky’s arrival in L.A. and the growth and improvements in SCAHA, Southern California Amateur Hockey Association.