WJC Ends Golden For Bears Prospects

Seven Acadian prospects struck gold at the 2013 World Junior Tournament and several individual accolades were also claimed by Bears players.
by Marcel Cormier | January 5, 2013, 6:25 PM ET

The United States captured its second U20 World Junior gold medal in four years this morning thanks to a 3-1 win over defending champion Sweden. The accomplishment had a distinct Golden Bears flavor as seven prospects of the SICHL franchise took home the coveted top prize. Some were singled out for their individual performances throughout the event as well. 

Two of the three players selected as the top Americans in the event happen to be future Golden Bears. Defenceman Jacob Trouba, the 5th overall selection this past draft, was also deemed the top blueliner in the entire tournament. The Michigan freshman finished the WJC with 9 points in 7 games, the most among all defencemen.

"It's a great feeling, especially after the disappointment we felt as a team and as a country last year finishing 7th in Alberta," said Trouba, "I'm going to enjoy this for a while then get back to Michigan and see if we can turn things around there."

Trouba was also named to the All-Star game and picked up Player of the Game honors against Russia too.

Diminutive forward John Gaudreau was selected as one of USA's top players after his offensive assault through the playoff portion of the tournament. He too finished with 9 points including 7 goals. Acadia selected the Boston College sophomore in the 6th round back in 2011.

"The production was late coming although I had lots of chances early on in the tournament," Gaudreau said, "But the way we finished, I think we clearly showed that we were the best team once it got down to crunch time."

His breakout performance against the Czech Republic earned him the Player of the Game and, like Trouba, was also selected to the media All-Star team.

Hard to argue with that has the Americans steamrolled the Czech Republic and Canada to get to the gold medal game against the Swedes. In the final game, Rocco Grimaldi, was credited with a pair of goals including the eventual gold medal winning tally. Earlier in the tournament the North Dakota forward was benched but he ended up contributing in the biggest contest and was named the Player of the Game in the final.

"There was definitely adversity," Grimaldi began," But like Daniel in the lions den, I knew God was with me the entire time and that through him I would rise to the challenge and perservere. Damn this feels good!"

Grimaldi finished the WJC with 4 points.

The Miami RedHawks duo of Sean Kuraly (4th rd, 2011) and Riley Barber (5th rd, 2012) carried team USA through the first couple of games while their big line struggled to hit the scoresheet. Kuraly scored the tournament's first goal just 19 seconds in against German and ended off with 4 points.

Barber continued his strong NCAA play and chipped in 6 points during the tournament. 

Shayne Gostisbehere started well but a mid-tournament suspension seemed to play with his confidence and he never fell into the dynamic offensive role that was expected of him. Still, the Union Dutchman, chosen in the 3rd round in 2012, managed to pick up 2 points and 25 penalty minutes in 6 games. 

Lastly, J.T. Miller provided leadership and strength down the middle for USA. He and Gaudreau proved a lethal combination and in the end, the returning forward from 2011 had 9 points for the new world champions.

"Like Jake said, this is extra special for he and I since we went through it last year in Alberta where we experience the exact opposite of this," he said, "I plan on playing in the SICHL as soon as possible and this just gives me the confidence to be able to do that."

It was a bitter sweet victory for Stefan Noesen who was forced to sit out the event because of a 10-game suspension in the OHL. The power forward was a lock to make the team as a top-6 forward.

"Sure I wish I could have been there with the rest of the guys but it's more important that they got the job done," said Noesen, "I was there in spirit."

Lastly, German Tobias Rieder (5th rd, 2011) finished second in scoring for Germany with 3 goals and 5 points. He was also named Player of the Game against Latvia in the crucial relegation round.

BEAR TRACKS

  • Trouba and Barber are eligible to return for USA in 2014 as the tournament shifts to Malmo, Sweden.
  • Other Acadian prospects who will be in the mix next year for the United States in their title defence include power forward Boo Nieves, goaltender Anthony Stolarz, Nic Kerdiles, Adam Gilmour, Sam Kurker and Vince Hinostroza.
  • A very likely roster candidate for Canada would be Scott Laughton from the Oshawa Generals and possibly Maine freshman Devin Shore.

 

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