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USA Advances to Gold Medal Game With 7-2 Win Over Slovakia

By USA Hockey, 05/04/24, 10:15AM EDT


Plante leads way with four points; Hagens sets single-tournament scoring record

ESPOO, Finland - Max Plante (Hermantown, Minn.) scored twice and added two assists and James Hagens (Hauppauge, N.Y.) collected three points to help lead the U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team to a 7-2 win over Slovakia in the semifinals of the U18 World Championship. 

With the win, Team USA will advance to the gold medal-game to face Canada. Puck drop is set for 6:00 p.m. local / 11:00 a.m. ET tomorrow (May 5) evening.

"When you get to this point in the tournament, nothing is going to be easy and it was a tough match-up today," said Nick Fohr, head coach of the U.S. Under-18 Men's National Team. "We were able to get to our style of play in the second and finish out really strong. I’m proud of our guys for working their way into the gold medal-game and we’ll be ready to go tomorrow.” 

Team USA raced out to a 1-0 lead at 3:08 of the first period on a second-chance opportunity. Hagens won an offensive-zone draw back to Logan Hensler (Woodbury, Minn.) for the initial shot on net, which was stopped by Slovakia's Alan Lendak. Teddy Stiga (Sudbury, Mass.) was first to the rebound and connected on the backhand for the opening goal. With the assist, Hagens collected his 20th point of the tournament, tying the all-time U.S. record for most points in a U18 Championship. 

After ringing one off the post earlier in the power play, USA's Cole Eiserman (Newburyport, Mass.) delivered on his second shot from the right circle to put Team USA up 2-0 at 12:05. Hagens found Plante in the bumper position, who moved it over to Eiserman for the one-timer from the right circle. 

Slovakia answered the score 40 seconds later to cut into the deficit. On a Slovakian rush, U.S. netminder Nick Kempf (Chicago, Ill.) made a pad stop on the first shot, but Adam Nemec was in the slot to push home the rebound past an outstretched Kempf to make it a 2-1 contest. 


Team USA converted again early in the middle frame as Plante earned his first goal of the tournament. Kamil Bednarik (Chicago, Ill.) spotted Sam Laurila (Moorhead, Minn.) at the center point. He found Plante, who had repositioned himself at the right circle, for a one-timer finish that squirted through Lendak and in for a 3-1 lead.

Just shy of the midway mark of the game, the United States added a power-play tally from Hutson, his third of the tournament all from the exact same location at the left dot. Brodie Ziemer's (Hutchinson, Minn.) attempt rimmed around the boards to Hagens who corralled it and dropped for a cutting Hutson. He finished short-side to make it a 4-1 contest. The point was Hagens' 22nd in six games, giving him the all-time single-tournament record, besting Nikita Kucherov's 21 points in 2011. 

Defenseman Will Skahan (Woodbury, Minn.) made it three in a row for the U.S. in the second as he found his first of the tourney with 5:34 to play in the second. Christian Humphreys (Pittsburgh, Pa.) made a nice outlet pass to spur LJ Mooney (West Mifflin, Pa.) into the offensive zone. He went cross-ice to Skahan with a ton of open ice. The defender fired from the left circle over the blocker to push the lead to 5-1 after 40 minutes. 

A pair of Team USA forwards added their second scores of the afternoon in the third period. First, Eiserman netted on the power play, just 33 seconds into the final frame after a quick give-and-go with Plante. 

With eight minutes to play, Plante capped the U.S. scoring, finishing a beautiful tic-tac-toe passing sequence from Mooney and EJ Emery (Compton, Calif.). 

Slovakia found the back of the net with 42 seconds to play in regulation for the 7-2 final. 

Kempf ended the contest with 16 saves, giving him wins in all five of his appearances at the U18 Championship. Jack Parsons (Ithaca, N.Y.) made four stops in relief. 

Team USA moves on to the gold medal-game tomorrow (May 5) evening here in Espoo against Canada at 6:00 p.m. local / 11:00 a.m. ET. The game will be carried live on NHL Network. 

NOTES: With three assists and becoming the all-time single-tournament points leader, James Hagens was named Team USA’s Player of the Game … The U.S. went 3-5 on the man advantage while Slovakia went 0-7 on the power play … Team USA outshot Slovakia, 40-22 ...  James Hagens, Cole Hutson and Teddy Stiga were named the Top 3 Players of the tournament for Team USA ... For complete tournament news, including full schedule, broadcast information, stats and standings, click here ... Team USA news, including tournament interviews and highlights, can be found at


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