Team USA takes Gold at the World Juniors!

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IHOCKEY-JUNIOR-USA-SWE / ADAM IHSE/TT/GettyImages
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Friday's final matchup proved to live up to the hype as the clear-cut top two teams met in the gold medal finale. Host country Sweden, led by NHL picks Lekkerimaki, Ostlund, Stenberg, Lindstein, and Sandin-Pelilkka, has just as talented of a roster as the USA squad does (though not the depth). Despite some close calls in the prior game for each, these two talented squads were destined to square off in this game.

In the 1st period the "B.C. line" connected as Will Smith threw a puck towards the front of the crease that got tapped in by Gabe Perreault to make it 1-0 USA heading into the 2nd . The 2nd was an all out crazy period to behold of and take in. The period would end with USA hanging on to a 3-2 win but it became a much more physical and intense battle out there.

The crowd, 95% yellow-clad at that, began to boo and voice their opinion on every hit, every sequence, every non-call for their team. Isaac Howard, a Tampa Bay prospect, would net 2 big goals in the period to silence the pro-Sweden crowd for a short while. After some uneventful few shifts, a big hit by the USA captain Rutger McGroarty and leading scorer Cutter Gauthier got non-calls by the referees. A minute later though the call would be made on a questionable trip by blue liner Seamus Casey. That would lead to a goal with 5 seconds left in the period by Lekkerimaki to give Sweden the confidence to come back leading into the final frame of the tournament.

In said 3rd period, with tensions high, 2024 draft eligible defenseman Zeev Buium would rifle a shot from the right side that would get past Havelid. This just 2 minutes into the period would prove to be a huge goal. Five minutes later the Americans would get a 4 minute power play on an egregious high sticking penalty on Sweden.

The Swedes would grit it out on the penalty kill to negate the 4 minute penalty although you could argue the 4 minutes elasped on the clock was the true advantage here. With Sweden then adjusting their game to try and increase scoring chances, Ryan Leonard would get a rush out with 4 minutes to go and he would bury it to finish off Team Sweden. An empty net goal by the American captain Rutger McGroarty would have USA up 6-2 as Team USA claims gold in 2024!

USA came in with the deepest and most talented roster into this year's World Juniors and they came out and executed for a gold medal. Blackhawks prospects Frank Nazar, Oliver Moore, Sam Rinzel, and Gavin Hayes are coming home from Sweden just a little bit "heavier".