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U.S. captures gold medal at U-18 Worlds

Sunday, 04.27.2014 / 2:40 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  / 2014 NHL Draft blog

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2014 NHL Draft blog
U.S. captures gold medal at U-18 Worlds

Left wing Sonny Milano, No. 16 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American skaters eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft, had a goal and two assists to help lead the United States Under-18 National Team to a 5-2 victory against the Czech Republic in the gold medal game of the 2014 IIHF World U-18 Championship at Lappeenranta Arena in Finland.

Auston Matthews, a 16-year-old from Scottsdale, Ariz., not eligible until the 2016 NHL Draft, scored two goals, and center Dylan Larkin and defenseman Jack Dougherty also scored for the Americans.

Matthews, a third-line center, closed out the tournament on a six-game point streak with five goals and two assists over that stretch. The 6-foot, 192-pound left shot forward had 22 goals and 48 points in 42 games for the National Team Development Program in 2013-14.

First-line center Jack Eichel, considered to be one of the top draft-eligible prospects for the 2015 NHL Draft, had an assist and also finished on a six-game point streak with five goals and five assists.

Goalie Alexander Nedeljkovic, who was recently named goalie of the year in the Ontario Hockey League for the Plymouth Whalers, had 15 saves. Nedeljkovic, who stopped 11 of 12 shots in the first period, is No. 4 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top North American goalies eligible for the 2014 NHL Draft.

The triumph gave the United States a fifth gold medal in its sixth straight gold medal game appearance at the World U-18 Championship. The Americans lost in the 2013 championship match against Canada.

Goals by Larkin, No. 17 on Central Scouting's final list, and Matthews in the opening seven minutes of the second gave the U.S. a commanding 5-1 advantage.

The United States has won a record 11th consecutive medal at the World U-18 Championship, including gold medals in 2005, 2006, 2009-12 and 2014, three silver medals (2004, 2007, 2013) and one bronze medal (2008).

The Americans opened a 3-0 lead in the first period on goals by Dougherty, Matthews and Milano in the opening 7:41. The Czech Republic pared the deficit to 3-1 on a goal by Jiri Smejkal with just 34 seconds remaining in the first. The U.S. held a 17-12 advantage in shots in the first.

Despite the loss, the silver medal-winning effort was the best for the Czech Republic at the tournament. The country won the bronze medal three times (2002, 2004, 2006).

Canada 3, Sweden 1: Mason McDonald, No. 2 on NHL Central Scouting's final list of the top draft-eligible goalies in North America, made 38 saves to lead Canada in the bronze medal game at the World U-18 Championship at Lappeenranta Arena in Finland. McDonald, who finished the tournament 4-2-0 with a 1.94 goals-against average and .929 save percentage, had 17 saves in the first period and 12 in the third.

Brendan Perlini, Lawson Crouse and Travis Konecny scored for the Canadians. Henrik Tornqvist, No. 50 on Central Scouting's final list of the top European skaters, had given Sweden a 1-0 lead 10:07 into the first on a shorthanded goal before Perlini, No. 8 on Central Scouting's final list of the top skaters in North America, pulled Canada into a 1-1 tie at 17:02.