Photos courtesy of Garrett James/Langley Events Centre

The Americans routed Canada Red 11-3 on Saturday at Langley Events Centre in the gold-medal game at the 2022 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. The seven-team, 10-day tournament was co-hosted by Langley Events Centre and Delta’s Sungod Arena.

The US team was 6-0 in during preliminary round play, averaging more than seven goals per game and winning every game by multiple goals, and saving their best for last as the 11 goals they scored, and the eight-goal margin of victory were both tournament highs.
They also set along the way as James Hagens set a new tournament record for points (21) while linemate Cole Eiserman tied the tournament record for goals with a dozen, tying Alexander Ovechkin.

Hagens and Eiserman both had hat tricks and finished with five and six points, respectively.
“It is awesome feeling (but) I wouldn’t be able to do it without the guys on this team,” Hagens said, referencing his linemates Eiserman and captain Charlie Pardue in setting the points record. As for Eiserman, he called it humbling to be tied with a player of Ovechkin’s calibre in the record books.

Photos courtesy of Garrett James/Langley Events Centre

The US team was dominant throughout the 10 days, trailing just three times in two games and only for a total of 25:46 over seven hours of hockey. “That is what USA Hockey’s standard is: winning gold medals and that is what we came here to do, and I
just tried to do my best to help,” Eiserman said. “To be able to wear this sweater and win a gold medal is just one of the most awesome things I will probably ever do in my life.”
“When I was a kid, I would sit on the couch and see USA players be able to do that. To be able to have this happen to me is awesome,” Hagens added. “It is so awesome to have a gold medal placed around your neck. It is the best feeling in the world.”

The game was scoreless for nearly the first 14 minutes before Hagens, Lucas Van Vliet and Eiserman scored in a span of 2:15. Charlie Pardue made it 4-0 early in the second before Canada Red’s Porter Martone and Nathan Villeneuve (on the power play) scored 2:16 apart Shane Vansaghi and Brodie Ziemer (on the power play) responded with goals for the US 2:16 apart to restore the four-goal advantage. Martone made it 6-3 11 seconds into the third with his second of the game before Brendan McMorrow, Kristian Epperson and James Hagens struck in rapid succession with the first two goals 14 seconds apart and the third one 69 seconds later, Eiserman then tacked on a pair to complete the hat trick.

“They did it as a team, which is really cool to see. They picked each other up; a guy made a mistake, no big deal. Next guy will go out and get a goal back right away. You saw that in a lot of our games, we answered a goal against with a goal back, right away,” said Nick Fohr, the Americans head coach.

While the gold medal was the obvious goal, but not the only objective for the team.
“We are going to develop these players not only into good hockey players, but winning hockey players. Learning how to win is a skill, just like passing a puck and scoring a goal is. We are focused on the winning habit piece,” he said.
“They are not perfect yet, it is not even close with a bunch of 17-year-old kids, but they have made major steps in their first two months they have been with us, and they showed that here.”

Will Skahan (US) and Porter Martone (Canada Red) were the respective Players of the Game for their teams.