2024 IIHF Men's U18 World Championship

USA Vs. Canada World Under-18 Championship Gold-Medal Game Preview

USA Vs. Canada World Under-18 Championship Gold-Medal Game Preview

Canada and the U.S. will square off for the gold medal at the 2024 IIHF World Men's Under-18 Championship in a battle of unbeaten rivals.

May 4, 2024 by Chris Peters

ESPOO, Finland – USA vs. Canada. No matter the level, no matter the stage, if there is ice involved, it does not get better than that.

At the 2024 IIHF Men’s World Under-18 Championship, the North American rivals will meet in a highly-anticipated clash for the gold medal Sunday evening in Finland. Team USA is looking for its second straight gold at the tournament, while Canada seeks its first U18 title since 2021 when underagers Connor Bedard and Shane Wright led them to victory. 

How To Watch The Men’s U18 World Championship Gold-Medal Game

The game will be broadcast in the United States on NHL Network, while TSN will have the event in Canada. The game will also stream in Canada on the TSN Sports app. 

USA will meet Canada at 11 a.m. ET Sunday.

What You Need To Know About USA vs. Canada At U18 Worlds

Both teams enter the finale with perfect records, unbeaten through six games and mostly laying waste to the competition in the process. In what has been a bit of a down year for the field, USA and Canada has stood heads above the competition with multiple players on each team posting historic numbers for the tournament.

Both teams have scored over 40 goals in the event, while no other teams in the tournament had scored more than 21. The Americans sport a goal differential of plus-35, while Canada is at plus-29. The tournament’s top 10 scoring leaders are either American or Canadian.

On paper, via the eye test, via any discernible metric, these were the best two teams and it is not particularly close to the rest.

The U.S. earned an easy 7-2 victory over Slovakia in the first semifinal Saturday, while Canada stormed out to a 5-1 lead over Sweden only to have to hang on to win 5-4 in a semifinal that got more tense as it went on.

The only common opponents between these two teams in this tournament was Latvia and Switzerland. USA beat Latvia 7-1 and Switzerland 4-0. Canada beat Switzerland 8-1 and Latvia 4-0.

Who Are The Players To Watch In The U18 World Championship Gold-Medal Game?

Team USA Players To Watch

James Hagens, C, 2025 NHL Draft Eligible 

With 22 points in the tournament so far, Hagens already owns the single-tournament record for the U18 Worlds after passing Nikita Kucherov's prior record of 21 on Saturday. He has scored no fewer than three points in any game and has shown no signs of slowing down. Whether it’s scoring goals or setting up plays, Hagens is always dangerous with the puck on his stick, showing why many believe him to be the top prospect for the NHL Draft in 2025.

Cole Eiserman, LW,  2024 NHL Draft Eligible  

Now tied with Cole Caufield with 126 career goals as a member of the U.S. National Team Development Program, Eiserman is a legit sniper. He scored twice in the semifinal win over Slovakia after a couple of quiet games. He has often raised his level for the bigger stages and this will be his biggest stage yet.

Cole Hutson, D, 2024 NHL Draft Eligible 

Now the all-time leader among defensemen in career scoring at this tournament, Hutson has back-to-back years of double-digit point production at the U18 Worlds. He is tops among defensemen this year with 10 points. The next closest blueliner has six.

E.J. Emery, D, 2024 NHL Draft Eligible 

When it comes to the toughest matchups, E.J. Emery is going to get a lot of ice. We’ll likely see him a lot going head-to-head against Gavin McKenna and Porter Martone. Emery has raised his draft stock with high-end defending and a simple game that has been very difficult for the opposition to break down. 

Trevor Connelly, LW, 2024 NHL Draft Eligible 

If the U.S. is going to win the game, scoring depth will be key and it’s not often you have a first-round caliber talent on your third line in a tournament like this. That’s what USA has though and why they sought Connelly's services from the Tri-City Storm for this tournament. Connelly has 10 points at the U18s and has had some eye-popping moments thanks to his speed and skill.

Team Canada Players To Watch 

Gavin McKenna, C/W, 2026 NHL Draft Eligible 

Now tied with Martone for Canada’s single-tournament scoring record with 16 points, McKenna has been unstoppable. His speed is dangerous and he’s got the hand skills to cut through defenses easily. He has that ability to take over the game despite being so young.

Porter Martone, C/W, 2025 NHL Draft Eligible 

A combination of size and skill with above average skating ability has allowed Martone to impose his will at times at this tournament. He’s reading plays well and picking his spots. Through two World Under-18s, he is now Canada’s career scoring leader with 22 points, surpassing Connor Bedard’s previous mark of 21.

Charlie Elick, D, 2024 NHL Draft Eligible

A high-end defender who is difficult to get around, Elick likely will see some tough matchups in this game. He has good physicality, but it’s his skating ability that really stands out. As long as he keeps his game simple, he will be tough to play against.

Tij Iginla, RW, 2024 NHL Draft Eligible 

Iginla keeps finding ways to score goals. He has high-end hand skills with good quickness and a wicked release that he’s showed off a few times in this tournament. Iginla’s pedigree is well known, but he’s established himself as a go-to goal scorer for Canada with five goals and nine points so far.

Matthew Schaefer, D, 2025 NHL Draft Eligible 

I hadn’t seen a ton of Schaefer this season, but now that I’ve seen him live, I’ve been amazed. The 16-year-old blueliner who will be among the youngest draft-eligibles next season has tremendous skating ability, good skill and a maturity to his game that is always on display.

USA Vs. Canada Gold-Medal Game Prediction

This one is as close as it gets on paper. If I look up and down the lineups, I’m inclined to say Canada has a bit more depth of talent. That said, the U.S. has the benefit of continuity as these players, with the exception of a few, have been together for two years preparing for this moment.

Still, in a single game, anything can happen. 

I think this game will be won in the margins, with special teams potentially playing a role. I think the goaltenders, Carter George for Canada and Nick Kempf of Team USA will simply have to manage the game for their team because scoring chances of varying quality are going to be coming in high numbers for this matchup.

USA’s benefit is that I don’t know that there’s been a single player as unconsciously good in this tournament as James Hagens. If he gets hot early in this game, he will be impossible to slow down. But if the likes of Charlie Elick and the physical players of Canada can knock him off his game, it gives them a chance. There’s no question they’ll be trying to get at him. They’re just going to have to catch him first.

I think this is going to be a tight game between two absolute heavyweights at this level, but I’ll go with Team USA eking out a narrow victory for gold.

Score Prediction

USA 5, Canada 4

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