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Under-18 Men's National Team Embracing High Expectations

By Laney Byler, 04/17/18, 10:30AM EDT


Team USA looks to continue golden success at IIHF Under-18 Men's World Championship

With 10 gold medals in tow, the U.S. Under-18 Men’s National Team has had a golden history at the International Ice Hockey Federation Under-18 Men’s World Championship.

Team USA has earned 15 medals throughout the tournament’s 19-year history, five more than any other team. No other team has won the tournament more than three times.

With the success comes high expectations on a yearly basis.

Forwards Oliver Wahlstrom (Quincy, Mass.) and Joel Farabee (Cicero, N.Y.) know the expectations better than any of their teammates, as both were underagers apart of last year’s gold medal-winning squad at the 2017 IIHF Under-18 Men’s World Championship in Poprad and Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia.

“We have a lot of history in this tournament and it’s exciting to compete each year for a gold medal,” said forward Wahlstrom. “We’re very fortunate to be where we are today.”

Team USA forwards Oliver Wahlstrom (left) and Joel Farabee (right) look for second gold medal

Team USA’s participation in the event has allowed an array of younger players, such as Wahlstrom and Farabee, to experience international hockey at the championship level. With tough competition from teams like Russia and Canada, the U18s face an assortment of challenges.

“I think staying mentally focused for the whole three weeks is a challenge in itself,” said Farabee. “It’s always hard playing overseas, and Russia is definitely a tough country to play in, so that’ll be a big factor.”

But even with the challenges — from traveling for three weeks to battling out tournament wins consistently — the goal still remains the same.  

“A gold medal is definitely a goal, but I think playing for the guy next to you — not worrying about yourself or what you need to do, but worrying about you need to do for the team will help us win,” said Farabee.

Historically, the tournament has provided a place for these athletes to work on those goals before moving on to play at the collegiate or professional level. Tournament alumni such as Phil Kessel and Jack Eichel have both gone on from gold-medal performances at the tournament to play in the NHL.

Tournament alum Jack Eichel (pictured far left) celebrated gold in 2014.

U.S. head coach Seth Appert (Cottage Grove, Minn./USAH NTDP) points to the growth of hockey and the continued improvements in development tactics such as the American Development Model and the introduction of the National Team Development Program as the main catalysts for success in this tournament and into the development of elite hockey talent.

“In the bigger picture it's a huge credit to USA Hockey across the country because we're producing world-class players, high caliber NHL players and closing the gap or surpassing other countries in the terms of creating elite hockey players," said Appert. "The credit goes right across the board to the expansion hockey across the country and to our American Development Model coaches in Colorado Springs and across the country.”

Even for Farabee and Wahlstrom, the tournament has served as a place to highlight the year’s hard work. In the 2017 tournament, Farabee recorded three goals and three assists, while Wahlstrom tacked on four goals and an assist to help Team USA to the win.  

Experiences like the Under-18 Men’s World Championship not only provide an opportunity for players like Wahlstrom and Farabee to work on their skills to prepare for future experiences, but also to succeed in establishing their team as one of the top competitors in the world.

This tournament is a huge opportunity and an unbelievable life experience for all these players,” said Appert. “Whenever you're able to put that USA jersey on it is certainly special and it heightens anytime it's a World Championship. It's a unique experience for them to represent our country, to show their gratitude for the people that have helped get them there by how hard they play and to represent their families and our country at the same time.”

This year, the U18s are hoping to replicate that same type of success on the ice to bring home Team USA’s 11th gold medal.

“In the tournament, the USA and the U18s have had a lot of success over the years,” said captain and defenseman Mattias Samuelsson (Voorhees, N.J./USAH NTDP). “We just want to keep that tradition going.”

U.S. Roster

U.S. Homepage

Tournament Website

Sights & Sounds

U.S. Schedule

Date Opponent Round Time (Local/ET)/Results Location Television
Sun., April 15 France Exhibition W, 15-0 Traktor Ice Rink
Chelyabinsk, Russia
NHL Network
Thurs., April 19 Canada Preliminary L, 4-6 Metallurg Ice Rink
Magnitogorsk, Russia
NHL Network
Fri., April 20 Switzerland Preliminary W, 8-5 Metallurg Ice Rink
Magnitogorsk, Russia
NHL Network
Sun., April 22 Sweden Preliminary L, 1-3 Metallurg Ice Rink
Magnitogorsk, Russia
NHL Network
Tues., April 24 Belarus Preliminary W, 8-0 Metallurg Ice Rink
Magnitogorsk, Russia
NHL Network
Thurs., April 26 Russia Quarterfinals W, 5-1 Traktor Ice Rink
Chelyabinsk, Russia
NHL Network
Sat., April 28 Czech Republic Semifinals W, 4-1 Traktor Ice Rink
Chelyabinsk, Russia
NHL Network
Sun., April 29 Finland Gold Medal Game L, 2-3 Traktor Ice Rink
Chelyabinsk, Russia
NHL Network

2018 U18 Men's Worlds News