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World Juniors: 5 Takeaways from USA Hockey’s Gold Medal Performance

United States v Canada - Gold Medal Game - 2017 IIHF World Junior Championship Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

The United States captured its fourth Gold Medal in IIHF World Junior Championship history on Thursday night at the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario with a 5-4 shootout victory over Canada.

For a second consecutive night, Denver sophomore Troy Terry came through for Team USA in the shootout. Terry was the only player to find the back of the net for either team while London Knights goaltender Tyler Parsons turned away every Canadian shooter.

It was the second straight shootout victory for the U.S. The Americans earned a shootout victory over Russia in the semifinals to advance to the Gold Medal Game. Team USA went a perfect 7-0 in the tournament.

McAvoy Stepped Up As Number 1 ‘D’

With the U.S. missing NHL rookies Noah Hanifin and Zach Werenski from its blue line, Boston University sophomore and Bruins prospect Charlie McAvoy logged a lot of significant minutes.

The Long Beach, NY native didn’t just play a lot of minutes. He was dynamic with the puck on his stick and pushed possession in the favor of the U.S. The NTDP alum is confident and poised with the puck. He can retrieve pucks, pushes the pace in transition and can move the puck around the attacking zone. McAvoy gets shots on net and can evade defenders.

With the good comes a few mistakes, but he’s so dynamic that he can change a game in the blink of an eye. He’s a big-time offensive defenseman who will have a long career in the NHL.

Top Forwards Produced

The Americans’ top line was anchored by center Colin White and winger Clayton Keller. The duo were complimented nicely by Minnesota-Duluth freshman forward Joey Anderson.

Keller, the BU freshman and seventh overall pick of the Arizona Coyotes at the 2016 NHL Draft, was the tournament’s third leading scorer with three goals and eight assists. White, a BC sophomore and 2015 first round selection of the Ottawa Senators, had seven goals, second best in the tournament.

In a short tournament like this, it is imperative for a team’s most dynamic forwards to score clutch goals. Keller and White both did a good job of setting the tone early, being dangerous with the puck and coming through when their team needed them to most. White’s tip-in goal in the third period against Canada was a thing of beauty.

Players Stepped Up

Everyone will remember Terry’s shootout heroics, but the fifth round pick of the Anaheim Ducks in 2015 came through in regulation as well throughout the two weeks. He used his strong skating ability to cycle and control possession down low in the attacking zone.

Another player who had his strongest showing to date was former Miami forward Jack Roslovic, who now plays for the Manitoba Moose. He had just two assists, but his speed and ability to impact the transition was felt the final two games. He really stepped up in the Medal Round games.

Everyone who has seen Jordan Greenway this fall at Boston University didn’t need any reminders of the Minnesota Wild prospects’ physical prowess. However, it would be remiss to not mention Greenway and his ability to absolutely dominate the game below the circles and along the walls. He was a huge net front presence. His screen allowed for an easy goal by White against the Russians. He showed off his footwork and strength by kicking the puck to himself before a short dish to Luke Kunin for a goal. He seemingly won every battle down low. In the Gold Medal game, it took four Canadians to grind the puck loose behind the goal line when he was fighting for it.

Goaltending Stood Tall

Parsons stood tall throughout the tournament, and didn’t really allow any soft goals that can be deflating to a team in a short tournament like this. While he doesn’t have the size of most elite modern era goaltenders, he’s shown he can be a big-game performer.

Boston College freshman Joe Woll was very good in his outings during the tournament. The Toronto Maple Leafs prospect did what he’s done all fall for the Eagles. He made saves look easy. He squared up to shooters and used his size to vacuum pucks and limit rebounds.

Coaching Staff Pushed Right Buttons

The U.S. was caught with too many men on the ice in the overtime period. If the Canadians had taken advantage with a power play goal to win the Gold Medal, this story could be written differently.

However, the American penalty kill unit came through as it did for most of the tournament. While some observers were critical of roster selection, USA Hockey brass did a good job of combining skill and players like Tanner Laczynski and Erik Foley who could play their roles to perfection.

A good example of Bob Motzko knowing how and when to utilize his personnel came late in the third period of the Gold Medal game when he got Kieffer Bellows an extra shift. Bellows, who had been snakebit as a freshman at BU and during the first seven games of the tournament, scored twice earlier in the game. He rode the hot hand, and it almost paid off.

The entire staff of Motzko, Boston College associate head coach Greg Brown, Minnesota assistant Grant Potulny, Providence assistant Kris Mayotte and Air Force Director of Hockey Operations Steve Miller deserve serious kudos for bringing this team together.