UFA, Russia — The United States won the junior ice hockey championships on Saturday after Rocco Grimaldi scored twice and Vince Trocheck added an empty-net goal for a 3-1 win over Sweden in the final.
Filip Sandberg put defending champion Sweden ahead on the power play early in the second period, but Grimaldi then scored twice in a three-minute span to swing the game in the Americans’ favor.
He powered from behind the net to score, and then redirected Jacob Trouba’s slap shot from the blue line midway through the second period.
Sweden pulled its goalie for an extra player with 1:42 left but failed to capitalize. Instead, Trocheck rounded off the win with 16.7 seconds left.
John Gibson made 26 saves for the victory and was named the MVP of the tournament. That put his save percentage for the tournament at .955, which set an American record. Al Montoya had a save percentage of .944 in 2004 when he led Team USA to a gold medal.
Gibson finished the tournament with a goals-against average of 1.36. He is a draft choice of the Anaheim Ducks.
Niklas Lundstrom had 31 saves for Sweden.
Team USA, coached by ex-Buffalo Sabre Phil Housley, hadn’t looked particularly strong in the early going of the tournament. But the squad came on once the knockout round of the competition began. The run was highlighted by a 5-1 semifinal win over Canada, which earned USA a chance to play in the final.
It was the third title for the Americans, who also won in 2004 and 2010. Team USA rebounded nicely from a seventh-place finish in 2012.
Earlier, Valeri Nichushkin scored 1:35 into overtime to give Russia a 6-5 victory over Canada in the bronze-medal match. It was Russia’s third straight win over Canada in the medal round, including a victory two years ago in the final in a game played in Buffalo.
Nichushkin broke down the right side and skated in on net alone, scoring into the left corner.
Canada trailed throughout before Brett Ritchie tied it with nine minutes left in regulation to force the extra period.
Andrei Makarov made 40 saves for Russia, while Malcolm Subban stopped 19 shots for Canada.
It was a disappointing result for the Canadian team, which had won medals in the previous 14 world junior competitions. It also has not won a gold medal in the last four competitions.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins was the offensive standout for Team Canada, and was named the tournament’s top forward. He had played for the Edmonton Oilers last season, but was free to play in the international event because of the NHL lockout.
Canada had to play Saturday’s game without Griffin Reinhart. The defenseman was suspended for four games because he hit an American player in the head with his stick during Thursday’s semifinal matchup.
Next year’s tournament will be played in Sweden.