The US U18 team finished off a fourth consecutive gold medal performance yesterday with a dominating 7-0 victory over Sweden. The US won all six games at the tournament, and outscored opponents by a total of 27-4, with all four goals against coming in two games against Canada.
The World U18s is an IIHF event, and I've always believed that it serves as a kind of "final exam" for the NTDP program. If that's the case, this year's group passed with flying colors. Everyone will be quick to point out that Canada does not send their best to this tournament, which is correct. But that means that at worst, the NTDP has elevated USA Hockey to the second best hockey playing nation in the world at the youth level, which is no small feat.
There was some concern heading into the tournament about the US' scoring, especially after they passed on Alex Galchenyuk, and then lost Stefan Matteau to a puzzling IIHF ruling, and then passed on Galchenyuk again to fill Matteau's spot. But scoring isn't much of an issue when you allow .67 goals per game. Nic Kerdiles finished as the team's leading scorer, thanks in large part to a big final game. Seth Jones had a very productive tournament and continued to cement his status as a top pick for the 2013 draft. And obviously a defensive performance that dominating has to help the stock of all the defensemen on the US team. I was surprised at how low Collin Olson was on the final Central Scouting rankings, but his 0.80 goals against, 96.55% save percentage, has to help get him drafted.