For the third time in history, the United States of America will bring home World Junior Championship gold. The Americans held off Sweden, the defending champions, 3-1 in the gold medal game in Ufa, Russia on Saturday morning behind two goals from Rocco Grimaldi and another phenomenal performance from goalie John Gibson.
Gibson, who made 26 saves in the gold medal game, was named the tournament MVP -- and rightfully so. The Anaheim Ducks prospect and Pittsburgh native kept the Americans in game after game, none more than Saturday, the USA's toughest test of the medal round.
Sweden opened the scoring in the second period with a power play goal from Filip Sandberg. The puck bounced past defenseman Seth Jones, a potential No. 1 overall NHL draft pick this summer, and Sandberg had an unobstructed shot at the net. He didn't miss, beating Gibson over the shoulder.
But the lead wouldn't last long. Grimaldi, the speedy forward from the University of North Dakota, evened up the score six and a half minutes later, and from there the USA didn't look back. The American defense tightened up and held Sweden back even further, and it was pretty evident that they had a jump in their step offensively after the goal.
Just three minutes after the first goal, Grimaldi tipped a Jacob Trouba point blast on goal, beating Swedish goaltender Niklas Lundstom, and the USA would never trail again. Vince Trocheck's empty netter in the final minute put the exclamation point on the victory, and the Americans were golden.
The USA used their phenomenal goaltending and perhaps the deepest blueline in U20 program history as their backbone all tournament long. Special teams were also vital, with the power play converting with nearly 30 percent success on the tournament and the penalty kill at nearly a 90 percent success rate.
This age group of American players won gold at the U17 and U18 tournaments, and now they've won the grand daddy of all junior hockey tournaments, the U20. It's a good time to be an American hockey fan.