2024 IIHF Men's U18 World Championship

Canada Stuns USA With Third-Period Comeback To Win Gold At U18 Worlds

Canada Stuns USA With Third-Period Comeback To Win Gold At U18 Worlds

Canada scores four in the third period to beat USA for the gold medal at the 2024 IIHF Men's World Under-18 Championship.

May 5, 2024 by Chris Peters

ESPOO, Finland – Canada scored three times on a major power play in the third period to complete an improbable comeback victory at the 2024 IIHF World Men's Under-18 Championship. Canada won its first gold since 2021 thanks in large part to the exploits of 16-year-old sensation Gavin McKenna, who had a hat trick in the 6-4 victory.

The Americans were 10:29 away from gold with a 3-2 lead, but Trevor Connelly was whistled for a check to the head of Ryder Ritchie, resulting in a major penalty and game misconduct, which opened the door for Canada. And did they ever step through it, scoring three times over the five minute power play to turn a 3-2 deficit to a 5-2 lead with just over five minutes remaining in regulation.

Even as USA drew closer, McKenna scored an empty-net goal in the dying minutes to complete his hat trick and secure the 6-4 lead for Canada. That slammed the door shut and kicked off the Canadian celebration. 

Team USA opened the scoring thanks to Christian Humphreys quick thinking on a jam play near Canada's net. The goal, which came off of Humprheys' second effort at the net front, was scored with just 52 seconds remaining in the first period, giving the Americans some momentum heading into the break. They held a 12-6 shot advantage in the opening stanza.

Canada answered early on in the second period, catching USA in a bad line change. Ryder Ritchie found some space, sold that he was passing and then kept the puck for a beautiful short-side shot that found the top corner to even the score. 

That momentum was short-lived, however, as Team USA connected on a power play with top goal scorer Cole Eiserman letting go a one-timer off of a perfect feed from Cole Hutson on the rush. Eiserman's goal not only broke the tie with Canada in the game, but also Cole Caufield for the NTDP's career goals list with his 127th career tally over the last two seasons.

USA kept it rolling with another nice play in transition as Shane Vansaghi took the puck all the way down the ice before sending a pass right to Hutson who was all-alone in front for a one-time snapper over Canadian goalie Carter George to make it 3-1.

You knew the game wouldn't go by without hearing from 16-year-old sensation Gavin McKenna, though, and true to form, McKenna scored a pretty power-play goal after a nice play by Tij Iginla to break up a clearing attempt. McKenna made some moves in tight before sending a backhand shot over Nick Kempf to bring the Canadians within a goal.

Penalty trouble hurt Canada in the middle frame as they were out-shot 19-5 with the ice tilting towards their net. Keeping it close, however, was a win thanks in large part to the sure-handed goaltending of George.

Early in the third period, Canada seemingly had control of the game. They drew a power play and generated chances, but USA goalie Nick Kempf made a highlight-reel glove save on a golden opportunity to keep his team ahead.

The game flipped on its head later in the period, though. After a long shift of sustained pressure, USA forward Trevor Connelly caught Ryder Ritchie with a high hit. After review, Connelly received a five minute major and game misconduct for checking to the head. That was all Canada needed to get their offensive game going in the third period.

McKenna tied the game on a high-slot one-timer that found the upper-right corner. Canada still had four minutes on the power play to go to work. Cole Beaudoin tipped home the go-ahead goal on the doorstep minutes later. Just as the power play was about to expire, Tij Iginla scored a third power-play marker on a snipe from the left faceoff circle and Canada had seized control of the game.

With the goalie pulled, USA managed to keep the fight alive as captain Brodie Ziemer tipped a shot from EJ Emery that found its way through George. The momentum couldn't sustain the American attack, however, as Canada's star McKenna sent a long shot into the empty net with 1:08 to play to leave no doubt.

George, who was so solid for Canada all game, finished with 31 saves and was named his team's player of the game.

2024 U18 Men's Worlds Tournament All-Star Team And MVP

James Hagens of Team USA was named the tournament's MVP by the media.

The 2024 IIHF Men's World Under-18 Championship All-Star team as selected by the media was

  • Goalie: Carter George, Canada
  • Defense: Cole Hutson, USA
  • Defense: Louka Radivojevic, Slovakia
  • Forward: James Hagens, USA
  • Forward: Gavin McKenna, Canada
  • Forward: Porter Martone, Canada

Directorate Award Winners

The best players by position of the 2024 IIHF Men's World Under-18 Championship as selected by the IIHF Tournament Directorate were

  • Best Forward: James Hagens, USA
  • Best Defenseman: Cole Hutson, USA
  • Best Goaltender: Carter George, Canada

When Is The 2024 NHL Draft Lottery?

The 2024 NHL Draft Lottery will be held Tuesday, May 7 at 7 p.m. ET in Secaucus, N.J.

What Channel Is The 2024 NHL Draft Lottery On?

ESPN will broadcast the NHL Draft Lottery in the United States, while Sportsnet and TVA will broadcast the event in Canada in English and French, respectively.

The time of the broadcast will be announced at a later date.

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