The United States won the World Junior Hockey Championships on Saturday after Rocco Grimaldi scored twice and Vince Trocheck added an empty-net goal to clinch a 3-1 win over Sweden in the final.
Union sophomore defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere was a member of Team USA, and is the second Capital Region college hockey player to win gold. Former Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute player Jerry D’Amigo was on Team USA when it won the tournament in 2010.
Gostisbehere finished the tournament with a goal and an assist in six games. He had a plus-4 rating.
“It doesn’t seem real right now,” Gostisbehere said. “We’ve been here for a long time. lt’s finally nice that we’re going to leave here with the gold medal. It means we did what we had to do. It hasn’t sunk in yet. It’s really crazy right now.”
Filip Sandberg put defending champion Sweden ahead on the power play early in the second period, but Grimaldi then scored twice in a three-minute span to swing the game in the Americans’ favor.
He powered from behind the net to score an equalizer from a narrow angle, and then redirected Jacob Trouba’s slap shot from the blue line midway through second period.
“I was just happy [my goals] went in,” Grimaldi said. “Basically, I just threw it on the net [first one] and the second one just hit me in the chest and went in.”
Sweden pulled its goalie for an extra player with 1:42 left but failed to capitalize. Instead, Trocheck rounded off the win with 16.7 seconds left.
“I couldn’t be more proud of our players and staff,” U.S. coach Phil Housley said. “And I’m also
really happy for hockey fans in our country. This was a total team effort throughout the tournament. It was a very difficult challenge
tonight against an excellent Swedish team.”
Gostisbehere was confident that Team USA would take home the gold.
“When we went down, 1-0, we had no doubt we were going to win the game,” Gostisbehere said. “We just turned it around and put two in. Just watching that clock tick down, it felt like forever. You can’t words in to describe what just happened.”
John Gibson made 26 saves for the victory and was the MVP of the tournament.
“We wouldn’t have this if it wasn’t for Gibby,” said Trouba, who was selected best defenseman. “We rode him all tournament, and he played phenomenal the whole tournament.”
“It feels great. I worry about the team first and winning a gold medal,” Gibson said. “I’ll remember that more than MVP.”
Niklas Lundstrom had 31 saves for Sweden.
It was the third title for the Americans, who also won in 2004 and 2010.
“It’s pretty special how a group of guys that don’t play together for a whole year and then come together can form a gold medal-winning team,” U.S. captain Jake McCabe said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better group of guys to win this with.”
Earlier, Valeri Nichushkin scored an overtime winner to give Russia a 6-5 victory over Canada in the bronze-medal match.
Canada trailed throughout the match, but Brett Ritchie scored an equalizer with nine minutes left of the third period to force overtime.
In the extra 10-minute period, Nichushkin broke down the right flank on a solo effort and skated in front of the goal to score into the left corner after just 1:35.
Russia goalkeeper Andrei Makarov made 40 saves for the victory. Malcolm Subban stopped 19 shots for Canada.
It was the first time since 1998 that 15-time champion Canada finished without a medal at the event.