2024-01-08 · 1 min read · IIHF World Juniors/Hockey
Team USA wins gold

Bjorn Larsson Rosvall/AP | Chris Tanouye/IIHF

The 2024 WJC tournament is officially in the books with team USA having come away with the gold. Let's take a quick look at how the medal matches played out and the all-tournament team before closing.
Gold Medal Match (USA 6, Sweden 2)
In a highly-anticipated matchup against host Sweden on European ice on Friday, it was the United States that won out for the first time since 2021, pulling away in the third period with a 6-2 win. Team USA won in big part thanks to Isaac Howard scoring two goals in the second period to lead the United States to the gold medal at the 2024 IIHF World Junior Championship at Scandinavium in Gothenburg, Sweden. Gabe Perreault had a goal and two assists to lead the U.S. to its first tournament championship since 2021. Rutger McGroarty had a goal and an assist, and Zeev Buium (only 2024 NHL Draft eligible on USA roster) and Ryan Leonard scored. Will Smith had two assists, and Trey Augustine made 24 saves. Otto Stenberg and Jonathan Lekkerimaki scored for Sweden, which was trying to win its first WJC gold since 2012. Hugo Havelid (2024 draft eligible) made 20 saves.
In the first two periods, we had them where we wanted," Sweden defenseman Mattias Havelid said. "In the third, they had a one-goal lead, but we felt good". Howard gave the U.S. a 2-1 lead at 9:24 of the second period when he raced past Sweden defenseman Tom Willander to reach a long pass up the wall by Drew Fortescue, cut to the net and beat Havelid with a backhander from the crease. Howard made it 3-1 at 14:19 when his sharp-angle shot went off Havelid's right skate and into the net. "It's unbelievable," Howard said. "Best moment in my hockey career. To do it with guys I love, we just went to war this last month together. Anything but gold was a failure to us”. It was his seventh goal, tied with Lekkerimaki for the tournament lead.
It was the sixth championship for team USA in the past 20 years (2004, 2010, 2013, 2017, 2021). In the first 27 years of the WJC, dating to 1977, the U.S. had won three medals: silver in 1997 and bronze in 1986 and 1992.
Bronze Medal Match (Czechia 8, Finland 5)
The bronze medal matchup may have had just as much hype as the gold, especially late when Czechia erupted for five third-period goals to stun Finland and take the Bronze. The game seemed over at 5-2, but then Ondrej Becher started the turnaround scoring a short-handed goal with 55 seconds remaining in the second to make it 5-3 and give the Czech's the life they needed. Becher, who is 2024 draft eligible, had a hat trick and two assists for Czechia, which scored six straight goals after trailing 5-2 late in the second period. Jiri Kulich had two goals and two assists for Czechia, which lost 5-2 to Sweden in the semifinals Thursday. Tomas Hamara also had two assists, Jakub Stancl had a goal and an assist, and Matyas Melovsky (also 2024 draft eligible) had three assists.
Kulich's second power-play goal of the game made it 5-4 at 4:41 of the third, and Becher scored on the rebound of a Kulich shot to tie the game 5-5 at 18:04. Tomas Hamara scored the winner on a shot from the left point after a face-off win on the left side of the Finland zone. Dominik Rymon (18:52) and Becher (18:54) added empty-net goals two seconds apart for Czechia to set a tournament record for fastest two goals. Jakub Vondras made 17 saves on 20 shots after replacing Michael Hrabal, who allowed two goals on three shots and was replaced 7:43 into the first period
Lenni Hameenaho scored two goals for Finland, which lost 3-2 to the United States in the semifinals Thursday. Jani Nyman had a goal and an assist, and Konsta Helenius (who is 2024 draft eligible) and Rasmus Kumpulainen also scored. Niklas Kokko made 23 saves. Finland finished in fourth after a fifth-place finish at the 2023 WJC. Czechia, which won the silver medal at the 2023 WJC, has finished in the top three at the WJC in consecutive years for the first time since it won consecutive tournaments in 2000 and 2001.
Tournament Summary
Jonathan Lekkerimaki of Sweden has been named MVP of the 2024 World Junior Championship. The IIHF has also announced its Directorate Award winners:
Best Goalie went to Hugo Havelid (SWE) who went 4-1 with 1.77GAA and two shutouts. Best Defender went to Axel Sandin Pellikka (SWE) put up two goals and four points in seven games. Best Forward went to Cutter Gauthier (USA) who had two goals and 10 assists in seven games
The tournament All-Star Team which has been selected by media is:
Goal: Hugo Havelid (SWE)
Defence: Lane Hutson (USA), Theo Lindstein (SWE)
Forward: Cutter Gauthier (USA), Jiri Kulich (CZE), Jonathan Lekkerimaki (SWE)
The 2025 World Juniors will be played in Ottawa, Canada. Norway has been demoted from this year, and Kazakhstan (ya thats right) has earned the promotion for 2025 and will be in the top division for the first time since 2020.
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By: Chase Howard


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