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Plenty of Positives in U.S. Bronze at 2018 World Juniors

By, 01/08/18, 4:15PM EST


U.S. earns third-straight medal in World Juniors for first time; Mittelstadt named Best Forward, Tournament MVP

Last Friday, the U.S. National Junior Team closed the 2018 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship on home ice in Buffalo, New York, with a bronze medal, topping the Czech Republic, 9-3. The victory gave the United States three-straight medals at the World Junior Championship for the first time in U.S. history and its sixth medal in the last nine tournaments (gold: 2010, 2013, 2017; bronze: 2011, 2016, 2018).

“We’re leaving very proud of how we can together and what we did here,” said head coach Bob Motzko (St. Cloud, Minn./St. Cloud State University). “USA Hockey’s in a great spot; they’d never medaled three years in a row. Is that important? I think it is. We can hand it off to the next group of guys and they can keep this thing going. Our guys did their part and we’re awfully proud of them.”

The tournament began on Dec. 26 with Team USA’s 11th straight tournament-opening victory when it beat Denmark, 9-0. After a 3-2 setback to Slovakia on Dec. 28, the U.S. met Canada a day later at New Era Field in the first-ever outdoor game in IIHF world championship play, where it wore Bills-themed jerseys and skated to a 4-3 shootout win before a record crowd of 44,592. On Dec. 31, the U.S. closed preliminary round play with a 5-4 victory over Finland to finish second in Group A play.

After topping Russia, 4-2, in the quarterfinals, the U.S. met Sweden in the semifinals where it fell, 4-2. In the bronze medal game, Trent Frederic (St. Louis, Mo./University of Wisconsin) scored four goals to lead the United States past the Czech Republic, 9-3.

Coach Bob Motzko led U.S. to back-to-back medals in 2017 (gold) and 2018 (bronze)

As a team, the United States finished second in most goals scored (35) and goals against average (2.71) while ranking fourth in power play efficiency (28.12%) and save percentage (.886%). Additionally, two U.S. players led the tournament in statistical categories. Forward Casey Mittelstadt (Eden Prairie, Minn./University of Minnesota) paced all tournament skaters in scoring with 11 points (4-7) while ranking second in assists and ninth in goals while forward Kieffer Bellows (Edina, Minn./Portland Winterhawks) registered a tournament-best nine goals in seven games, setting a new U.S. record for most goals in a single World Junior Championship. 

Casey Mittelstadt

Mittelstadt became the 10th U.S. player to lead an IIHF World Junior Championship in scoring when he finished the 2018 event with a tournament-best 11 points (4-7). Named Best Forward by the Directorate, Mittelstadt is just the second-ever U.S. player to earn the award after Zach Parise in 2004. Recognized as Tournament MVP by the media, Mittelstadt joins Parise (2004) and goaltender John Gibson (2013) as the only U.S. players to earn the honor and becomes the first NCAA player to earn the award since Parise.

Kieffer Bellows

With nine goals in seven games, Bellows broke a 29-year-old record set by Jeremy Roenick (1989) for most goals by a U.S. player in a single World Junior Championship. In addition to leading the tournament in goals (9), Bellows finished third overall in points with 10. Including last year’s two goals in the gold medal game, Bellows’ 11 career World Junior Championship goals tie Brian Gionta (1998-99) for third-all-time among U.S. players.

Other Notable Team Accolades

For their performances, Bellows and Mittelstadt were both named to the Tournament's Media All-Star Team. Mittelstadt, a two-time U.S. Player of the Game, was also named Most Valuable Player of the tournament by the media after leading the tournament with 11 points (4-7).

Bellows, Mittelstadt and defenseman Adam Fox (Jericho, N.Y./Harvard University) were named Team USA's Top Three Players of the tournament, as selected by the coaches. Fox led all U.S. defensemen in both points (5) and assists (4) while his five points tied for fourth amongst all tournament defensemen. He led all U.S. players in average ice time (21:37), which ranked third among the three medal-winning teams.

With a bronze medal this year, the United States has medaled in three-straight World Junior Championships for the first time after earning gold in 2017 and bronze in 2016. Team USA's six medals in nine years is also its best-ever stretch in tournament play.

World Juniors History

2018 World Juniors

U.S. Roster

U.S. Schedule

Date Opponent Location Result U.S. Player of Game
Wed., Dec. 20 Belarus
Pre-Tournament Game
Northwest Arena
Jamestown, N.Y.
W, 14-0 NA
Fri., Dec. 22 Sweden
Pre-Tournament Game
Erie Insurance Arena
Erie, Pa.
W, 3-1 NA
Tues., Dec. 26 Denmark
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 9-0 Casey Mittelstadt
Thurs., Dec. 28 Slovakia
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
L, 2-3 Brady Tkachuk
Fri., Dec. 29 Canada
Preliminary Round
New Era Field*
Orchard Park, N.Y.
W (SO) 4-3 Casey Mittelstadt
Sun., Dec. 31 Finland
Preliminary Round
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 5-4 Joey Anderson
Tues., Jan. 2 Russia
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 4-2 Kieffer Bellows
Thurs., Jan. 4 Sweden
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
L, 2-4 Josh Norris
Fri., Jan. 5 Czech Republic
Bronze-Medal Game
KeyBank Center
Buffalo, N.Y.
W, 9-3 Trent Frederic

World Juniors News