It was a good week for USA Hockey as the IIHF’s first international break of the season brought a lot of hardware. U.S. teams went 4-for-4 in international competition last week, winning tournament titles from Ann Arbor, Mich. to Monthey, Switzerland.
The U.S. National Women’s Team kicked off the winning streak with a 3-0 victory over Canada in the championship game at the Women’s Four Nations Cup in Finland. The U.S. National Under-18 Team followed that up with a 3-1 win over Sweden at the U18 Four Nations Cup in Ann Arbor, Mich. Sunday, the U.S. National Under-17 Team finished round-robin play 2-1-0-0 (W-OTW-OTL-L) to clinch the U17 Four Nations Tournament title in Monthey, Switzerland. The U.S. Junior Select Team then downed Canada West to claim its fourth World Junior A Challenge title in five years.
Coming up after the jump, a recap of each tournament with results, scoring leaders and a few extra notes.
World Junior A Challenge
There was a point in the second period of Sunday night’s championship game where it looked like the U.S. Junior Select Team was about to let it slip away from them. Taking a 2-0 lead into the middle frame, Team USA gave up three straight goals to Canada West within the first 10 minutes and looked awful in the process.
Three minutes after falling behind for the first time, Austin Cangelosi took a perfect give-and-go pass from Vince Hinistroza, broke and and stuffed the puck in the net on the backhand. A little over two minutes later, J.T. Stenglein scored his second goal of the game to regain the lead for the U.S. and they never looked back.
Alex Kile converted on another beautiful passing play from Hinostroza who later scored the goal of the night to put the game out of reach. After getting hauled down at the offensive blue line, Hinostroza quickly got up, collected the puck and made a devastating fake on the goalie before slipping the puck in the net.
After last year’s disappointing third-place finish, the U.S. returned to the championship game and reclaimed the title with authority.
After being a part of last year’s disappointment and serving as the captain this year, Hinostroza was Team USA’s best player all tournament. He finish tied for the tournament scoring lead with eight points, including a tournament best six goals.
Ian Brady tied Hinostroza with eight points, all assists, which set the World Junior A Challenge record. Both Hinostroza and Brady were named to the tournament All-Star Team.
Austin Cangelosi (2-5–7) and Sheldon Dries (1-6–7) finished tied for third in the tournament with seven points each. Ryan Fitzgerald scored four goals, which ranked second in the tournament.
This win for the U.S. team is also a win for the United States Hockey League, in which all but one American player plays. Having such convincing wins over a pair of Canadian teams and against a Swiss team that includes many players that likely will be in the World Junior Championship this year is important.
There aren’t many measuring stick events for the USHL, where the league can compare itself with others, but this event can be considered one. Winning four of the last five championships is pretty convincing.
Expect more thoughts on this team in an American Prospect Update later this week.
USA 9 – Canada East 1
USA 4 – Switzerland 3
USA 7 – Switzerland 4 (Semi Final)
USA 6 – Canada West 3 (Championship Game)
Women’s Four Nations Cup
The U.S. National Women’s Team, perpetually in preparation for the Olympics, took another positive step at the Four Nations Cup. With a team featuring many Olympic candidates, the U.S. went 2-0-0-1 in preliminary play to finish second after the round-robin portion. Team USA’s only loss came against Canada, which beat the U.S. 3-1. With a chance at redemption in the more important game, the U.S. women blanked the Canadians, 3-0, to claim the Four Nations title.
Jessie Vetter made 26 saves to earn the shut out, while Kendall Coyne, Hilary Knight and Anne Schlepper each scored in the 3-0 win.
With precious few opportunities to play these tough international games, this tournament is an important one for the U.S. Women’s National Team program. With Canada, Sweden, Finland and the U.S., these are the four best teams in the world, so taking the title is no small task.
The championship game win gave the U.S. its second consecutive Four Nations Cup title and fifth overall.
USA 4 – Sweden 0
USA 1 – Canada 3
USA 15 – Finland 1
USA 3 – Canada 0 (Championship Game)
Under-18 Four Nations Cup
The U.S. National Under-18 Team, made up of players almost exclusively from the National Team Development Program was able to take the Four Nations Cup title on home ice last week with a 3-1 win over Sweden in Ann Arbor, Mich.
Team USA had a bit of a shocking shootout loss to Switzerland in the tournament’s second game, but still managed to take points in all three game to finish first in the round-robin portion despite the loss.
The U.S. controlled most of the championship game, with Evan Allen putting the U.S. on top halfway through the first period with a nice wrister. John Hayden doubled the U.S. advantage after taking a feed from Connor Clifton, and firing a backhander from distance that found the top corner.
After Sweden got back within a goal on the power play, early in the third period, the U.S. tightened up defensively and later scored on a power play of their own. After working the puck around the offensive zone, Will Butcher found an opening to snap a shot through traffic. Michael McCarron got his stick on it and the puck found the back of the net.
Team USA controlled play the rest of the game and earned the 3-1 victory. Goalie Thatcher Demko made 22 saves to earn his third win of the tournament.
Tyler Kelleher led the tournament with six points (2-4), while Anthony Louis (3-2–5) and Sean Malone (3-2–5) finished tied for second with five points apiece. Demko closed out the tournament with a 3-0-0-0 record, 1.67 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.
Expect more thoughts on this team in an American Prospect Update this week.
USA 3 – Finland 1
USA 4 – Switzerland 5 (SO)
USA 5 – Sweden 3
USA 3 – Sweden 1 (Championship Game)
Under-17 Four Nations Tournament
The U.S. National Under-17 Team, which included all but one player from the NTDP, had an eventful first international tournament of the season in beautiful Monthey, Switzerland.
As a straight round robin tournament, with the team with the best record at the end winning the title, has such a thin margin for error. Every point and every goal can make a difference.
Luckily for the U.S., they brought their goal-scoring skates. Team USA opened the tournament with a convincing 7-1 win over the Czech Republic before getting tested mightily by Russia.
One of the great rivalries in international hockey lived up to the hype as the U.S. and Russia battled to a shootout. Anders Bjork had four points (2-2) in the game, but it was Sonny Milano, Dylan Larkin and Edwin Minney that got to play hero in the shootout. Minney stopped two Russian attempts to help Team USA skate away with a 5-4 win and a golden opportunity to win the tournament.
The U.S. closed it out with the tournament hosts, beating Switzerland 6-1. Milano, a Notre Dame commit, had two goals and an assist in the game, while Eric Schierhorn, the lone non-NTDP player on the squad, made 22 saves.
USA 7 – Czech Rep. 1
USA 5 – Russia 4 (SO)
USA 6 – Switzerland 1