Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Team USA wins World U-17 Challenge

John Gibson made 38 saves and Tyler Biggs scored both goals for the U.S. National Under-17 Team as it defeated Canada-Ontario, 2-1, to capture the gold medal at the 2010 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge Monday night at a jam-packed McIntyre Arena in Timmins, Ont.

"I couldn't be happier for the 22 players in the room," said Ron Rolston, head coach of Team USA. "They went through a lot of adversity to not only win the tournament, but to win every game. This might be one of the toughest international events to win and the players competed hard throughout. I think this is the strongest field I've seen in the three years I've coached at this tournament, so it shows the heart and character of our players."

After a scoreless first period, Team USA wasted little time in getting on the board in the middle frame. Rocco Grimaldi and Reid Boucher (Grand Ledge) won a left-corner battle to get the puck out to Biggs who snapped it into the top-right corner from the left side just 1:51 into the period. Gibson made 10 stops in the second to keep a relentless Ontario attack at bay and allow Team USA to head into the locker room ahead 1-0 after 40 minutes.

Biggs struck again just 31 seconds into the final stanza when he wristed a shot across netminder Tyson Teichmann (son of ex-Detroit Ambassadors goalie Brad Teichmann) and into the upper-left corner from a sharp angle to double the U.S. advantage. Gibson stopped shot after shot and ended up with 18 saves in the third period. However, Daniel Catenacci scored for Ontario off of a rebound with just one second remaining to spoil the shutout. After one final faceoff at center ice, the U.S. National Under-17 Team celebrated its first-place finish.

Team USA won the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge for the first time since 2002. It is the third gold medal for the U.S., which also won the event in 2001.

NOTES: Grimaldi was named to the all-tournament team. He led the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge with 14 points including a tournament best 10 assists ... Gibson was named U.S. player of the game ... Team USA finished with a 6-0-0 record ... Rolston has taken the U.S. National Under-17 Team to the gold-medal game in each of his three turns at the tournament. He guided Team USA to silver-medal finishes in 2006 and 2008 ... Canada-Ontario was the two-time defending champion ... The World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, the premier event for the under-17 age group, ran from Dec. 29, 2009 - Jan. 4, 2010 in Timmins, Ont. In addition to the United States, the event included five Canadian regional teams (Atlantic, Quebec, Ontario, Pacific and West), as well as national teams from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden ... Next year's event will be held in Winnipeg, Manitoba ... Team Ontario forward Garrett Meurs plays for the OHL's Plymouth Whalers.

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