January 7, 2013

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What IIHF Gold Medal Means For American Hockey

By: Tyler Vespa

After a year without reaching the medal stand at the IIHF World Junior Championships, the United States came back with a convincing gold medal run in 2013. They beat Czech Republic in the quarterfinal 7-0, and then dominated Canada 5-1 in the semifinal. That placed the Americans in the gold medal game for the first time since 2010. On Saturday, January 5th they had to defeat defending champion Sweden. Led by tournament MVP goaltender John Gibson and a stout penalty kill, the Americans beat Sweden 3-1.

With the NHL not yet back on the ice, many tuned into the IIHL where the Americans won gold.

Along with their gold in 2010, they finished with a bronze medal in 2011. In 17 years since 1997 the United States has made the medal stand only 6 times, while Canada has earned a medal 15 times.

Just as Canada’s numbers speak for themselves, the United States has been more consistent in recent years at the tournament. With the victory that put the U.S. on the medal stand at the IIHF World Juniors for 3 of the past 4 years.

With that here are 3 reasons American hockey is on the rise:

  1. More consistent performance: No it’s not about a gold medal every year, it’s about earning a medal in the first place.
  2. Juniors include those playing in the NCAA and High School: That means the NHL hasn’t necessarily drafted some of the best players yet, including incoming recruits.
  3. Huge increase in number of American players drafted: the 60 American skaters drafted in 2011 were the highest since 2007 when there were 62 selected. After having just 42 Americans selected in 2008, there have been 50 or more Americans selected the past 4 years.

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It’s no “Miracle on Ice”, but this victory is significant considering the current situation with the NHL. Because of the lockout, the NHL has not yet committed to participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia. That means the U.S. may be considered more of a threat to win the gold medal. With no NHL hockey being played it’s nice to know there continues to be an abundance of youth and talent in the States.

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