2024 World Juniors Recap: Team USA Gold

Just like that it’s over. After 29 games spanning 11 days, the 2024 World Juniors have come to an end. As predicted here by yours truly, Team USA ran the table for their sixth gold medal at the World Juniors. The 2024 World Juniors showed us perhaps the best roster and performance by Team USA at this tournament.

It was a shaky opening 10 minutes for the US against Sweden, but after our own Gabe Perreault opened the scoring in the first period – his first of three points in the gold medal game – it never really felt like they would lose control. They didn’t, and ended with a resounding 6-2 win against their long time rivals and the clear second-best team at the tournament.

As usual, nothing sets off the hockey world like 18/19-year-old kids being…well, 18/19-year-old kids. For the uninformed, Team USA players have received quite a bit of stick from fans up North in particular, who claim they did not display sportsmanship or “class” in their victory.

I have made no secret of my allegiance to the US at this tournament, and if you have followed my work or my ramblings on Twitter, you’ll know that I follow the NTDP closely every year. This 2004 World Juniors group was one of the most anticipated to ever enter the program, and I distinctly remember their defeat against Sweden in the gold medal game at the 2022 U18 championships.

In that game, Team USA skated circles around Sweden, it was not even a contest. But Hugo Havelid played out of his mind and Trey Augustine, who was 17 at the time, had a rough outing. Naturally, this was a nice revenge gold medal game at the 2024 World Juniors.

The whole point of the NTDP was to achieve greater international success. The player groups enter the program with the goal that they will win their last game at the program; the gold medal game at the U18 World Junior Championships. That failure in 2022 has eaten at these players for two years now.

So yeah, they are entitled to blow some kisses at the crowd of their biggest rivals – yes, bigger than Canada for this age group – after landing the knockout blow. I honestly think sometimes hockey fans just don’t like watching actual rivalries or maybe haven’t experienced something similar personally. I don’t know, but that’s my two cents on some of the most bizarre hockey discourse I have ever seen.

Regardless of perceptions of their humility, I am so proud of this version of Team USA and congratulations to them on a deserved Gold medal.

Gabe Perreault shines at 2024 World Juniors

Rangers fans, many of whom are also likely USA fans, tuned in to watch 2023 first-rounder Gabe Perreault. I don’t have a unique take on his tournament. Like most, I thought that line started out slow, but by the end of the tournament they were USA’s best line. Perreault is never going to be a burner like Brindley or Nazar, but his playmaking pops every time you watch him and it certainly did at this tournament.

Perreault produced 7 points in the medal round to bring his tournament total to 10 points, good for third (tied) in tournament scoring. His contributions included two goals against Latvia, a beautiful cross-crease assist to set up Will Smith against Finland which tied the game, and the aforementioned opening goal in the gold medal game after a nervy start for the US.

He received a bit of criticism early in the tournament for his play and skating. I don’t care if you are quiet against Norway if you produce like that in the big moments, and Perreault does that consistently. An outstanding tournament for the 18-year-old and he will be back again next year on a team that will once again be a tournament favorite.

Drew Fortescue was solid as well

Third-round pick Drew Fortescue also returns to BC with a gold medal. I don’t think Fortescue was outstanding – he had some issues with puck management – but he was good enough in his role and even put together some strong offensive plays.

Fortescue opened the scoring for the US against Latvia and executed a beautiful long rim pass to Ike Howard who scored on the ensuing breakaway. He mostly played with Seamus Casey in a role that he will continue to play for #1 BC on their top pairing. I look forward to watching him throughout the rest of the year, and I expect him to play a significant role on this team again next year in Ottawa.

Adam Sykora suffers a third straight heart break

Adam Sykora was the only other Rangers prospect to participate in what was his third and final attempt at a U20 WJC medal. Sykora’s tournament was the same story it has been for the past three years. He is very noticeable and a pest who is trusted with big minutes, but he struggled to produce again relative to that opportunity.

Sykora did score a huge buzzer-beater for Slovakia in their quarterfinal against Finland, but the Slovak team suffered heartbreak again after fighting back to get the game to overtime.

Dalibor Dvorsky will be back next year but unfortunately, this golden generation for Slovakia never got to compete at full strength and end their time without a medal to show for it. As for Sykora, he will look to get on the scoresheet more often for the Hartford Wolf Pack during the second half of the season. He has two points in two games since returning.

Overall, it was an exciting tournament and it lived up to the hype at every turn. Hopefully the 2024 draft brings us even more prospects to follow at next year’s tournament in Ottawa!


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