The USA went into the 2013 World Junior Championships with a good team, but lagged behind the favored Canadians and the hometown Russians.
However, after defeating defending champion Sweeden today, they leave Russia with gold medals all, proving themselves to be the best in the tournament.
Led by tournament MVP goaltender John Gibson and a strong defensive corps featuring Jake McCabe, Seth Jones, and Jacob Trouba, the Americans bounced back from a lackluster qualifying round to beat the Czech Republic and Canada in impressive fashion, and today held on to a 3-1 victory over Sweden that saw the diminutive Rocco Grimaldi lead the way with two goals.
The Sabres second round draft pick spearheaded an impressive showing for the four Buffalo prospects. McCabe finished with 3-3-6 in his 7 games and led the USA with a +9 rating. Joel Armia finished second among all skaters in scoring with an impressive 6-6-12 in just 6 games. Russian prospects Mikhail Grigorenko and Andrei Makarov also played fairly well, Grigorenko finishing with 2-4-6 in 7 games and Makarov with a .932 save percentage and 2.99 GAA.
It as an impressive tournament for fans of both the USA and the Buffalo Sabres, one that will hopefully be the harbinger of the return of NHL hockey in the near future.