The United States finished seventh in the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament last summer, but that fact won't diminish the hard feelings that the US Under-18 Select Team will leave the Czech Republic with after being shutout, 4-0, by Canada in the Gold Medal Game Saturday in Breclav.
The United States lost the first game of the tournament to Finland in overtime before rebounding for two wins over Russia and Slovakia to win the group. The US had a seesaw back-and-forth affair against the Czech Republic in the semifinals before finally pulling away for a 5-3 victory.
The Americans just could not get anything going in the finals against Canada Saturday morning. The event was a promising one for the future of USA Hockey. The tournament showcased some of the best 96s the country has to offer, including North Dakota recruit Nick Schmaltz of Verona, Wis. Two other UND recruits, Austin Poganski and Ryan Mantha, were key parts of the squad.
Wisconsin recruit Ryan Wagner, Yale recruit Joseph Snively and UMass recruit Jake Wahlin also had leading roles on Bob Corkum's team. Corkum, the former Maine associate head coach, will head to Long Island for his new post in player development for the New York Islanders franchise.
The United States failed to take home a medal at this event the past two seasons. The red, white and blue suffered a similar ending in 2010 when Canada topped them in the Gold Medal Game.
Jeff Cox is a hockey reporter for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.