ÖRNSKÖLDSVIK, Sweden – Nolan Maier (Yorkton, Sask./Saskatoon, WHL) stood tall with 36 saves, but Canada’s National Men’s Under-18 Team finished its 2019 IIHF U18 World Championship with a 5-2 loss to the United States in the bronze medal game Sunday.
Dylan Cozens (Whitehorse, Y.T./Lethbridge, WHL) and Nathan Légaré (Montreal, Que./Baie-Comeau, QMJHL) scored the goals for the Canadians, who saw their medal drought stretched to four years.
Back on the ice less than 24 hours after a heartbreaking semifinal loss to Sweden, Canada found itself down a goal when Alex Turcotte converted on a U.S. power play just past the eight-minute mark.
But Cozens responded on a Canadian man-advantage in the final minute of the first period, playing give-and-go with Alex Newhook (St. John’s, N.L./Victoria, BCHL) before beating U.S. goaltender Spencer Knight to the glove side.
The Americans took the lead for good seven minutes into the second when Jack Hughes finished a feed from Cam York, and Bobby Brink and York added power-play goals before the end of the middle frame to make it a 4-1 game after 40 minutes.
York struck again on the power play early in the third, hammering a point blast past Maier.
Légaré netted a consolation goal for the Canadians with just six seconds to go, letting go a quick shot from the side-boards that found its way through bodies and past Knight.
Newhook and captain Peyton Krebs (Okotoks, Alta./Winnipeg, WHL) finished as Canada’s leading scorers with 10 points apiece; Newhook had five goals and five assists, while Krebs scored six goals and added four helpers.
“Over the last month it was been a great pleasure putting this team together and watching them grow as a group,” said head coach Brett Gibson (Gananoque, Ont./Queen’s University, OUA). “The last 24 hours is a great example how quickly things happen in a short tournament. We competed hard five-on-five, but special teams were the difference in the Americans’ favour.”
“We just didn’t play well enough tonight,” said Thomas Harley (Jamesville, N.Y./Mississauga, OHL). “The U.S. is a great team, they executed their game plan. We didn’t do a good enough defending and we just didn’t play as well enough as we needed to. At the end of the day the tournament is over and we have to learn from it.”
Canada went unbeaten in the preliminary round, finishing atop the Group A standings with a 4-0 record following wins over Belarus (11-1), Czech Republic (6-2), Finland (5-3) and Switzerland (7-4). Canada added a 3-1 quarter-final win over Latvia, before falling 4-3 to Sweden in the semifinals.
“The guys put in a great effort and I can’t say enough good things about them,” said Canadian captain Peyton Krebs (Okotoks, Alta./Winnipeg, WHL). “We’re a good character group and I’m proud of the guys. It’s been a month of building relationships and having fun, but in the end we did our best and that’s all we can do.”
Canada has won seven medals at the IIHF U18 World Championship, including three gold (2003, 2008, 2013), one silver (2005) and three bronze (2012, 2014, 2015).